In “Regarding Dean” (12.11), Dean is hit by a witch spell that rapidly erases his memory. Sam enlists Rowena’s help in finding a cure.
Winchester recap: “Who’s Dean?”
After being hit by a spell, Dean wakes up in a park, with no memory of how he got there. He’s also forgetting other things: details about the case, the looming threat of Lucifer’s future offspring, random words. When he gets slapped after asking “And who are you?” to a woman he didn’t recognize, he concludes he must have had an “epic night”.
At the morgue, he’s unusually squeamish at the sight of blood and his response, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems”, to the evidence that points to a gruesome witch spell as cause of death of the victim, Barry Gilman, has Sam hoping his brother is still drunk. After watching Dean struggle to figure out which key to use, then fail to operate the Impala efficiently, Sam gives Dean a tough talk about keeping it together, no matter how heavy Lucifer and their recent captivity still weigh on their minds.
Sam realizes Dean’s been hexed when he forgets his own name. Dean’s in denial, even after he fails Sam’s test and can’t name the members of Bon Jovi. When he forgets the word “lamp”, Sam writes it down on a post-it, sticks it onto the object and decides it’s time to contact an expert. Rowena thinks the solution is to kill the witch. The brothers work to retrace Dean’s steps, which proves challenging in his forgetful state. Since he disappeared after going out for a burger, they visit a couple restaurants until they find a familiar face.
The woman who slapped Dean earlier is waiting an apology. She tells them that the night before, he ordered burgers to go, knocked back four shots of Tequila, rode the mechanical bull, and chatted her up before they “blew off some steam” together. The bartender saw him run out of the bar “like his pants caught on fire”. He was supposed to meet her at the end of her shift but never showed. She accepts Sam’s explanation that Dean was roofied and apologizes for taking “advantage” of him. Dean doesn’t mind. He’s just silently disappointed that he can’t remember.
Sam sees Dean shooting at the witch on the restaurant’s security footage. He recognizes the man from a picture in Barry Gilman’s office. They search the wooden area where Dean woke up, find glyphs that Sam forwards to Rowena and stumble upon the body of the witch, which is a problem since his death was supposed to be the cure.
Rowena arrives at the motel to examine Dean. He has no idea who she is, but he’s giddy at the sight of her “bouncy”, “awesome” hair and she likes this new, easy-going Dean. What she diagnoses is less humorous. As she confers with Sam while Dean is kept distracted by cartoons, she tells him about the origins of the spell. Gideon, the witch Dean killed, and his siblings, Boyd and Katrina Lachlan are members of a family that possess a powerful spellbook, the Black Grimoire, that witches came from around the world to study. Their magic is intricate and Rowena doesn’t have enough time to break the spell as Dean, who has already forgotten himself and everyone he loves, including Sam, will even forget how to swallow and soon die.
Sam sits down with Dean and explains what’s going on after reminding Dean of his life story. Dean is scared. He feels everything seeping out of his head. Sam promises they’ll figure it out but he later confides to Rowena that what’s happening is almost worst than the times he’s had to watch Dean die. He still doesn’t want her help with the Lachlans because he knows she’s after the Grimoire, and he can’t leave Dean alone.
Restless and bored, Dean entertains himself with Rowena’s Voodoo doll while she tells him the story of how the British Men of Letters ran her out of her land and how the family of witches she went to for refuge (the Lachlans) threw her out “like common trash”. Dean is sympathetic and since she knows he won’t remember much of their conversation, she speaks freely. He’s “a killer”, a “stubborn pain in the arse with the manners of a Neanderthal and the dining habits of a toddler”, but everything he’s done is for the greater good and to help others, unlike herself, who only cared about the pursuit of power until she met God and his sister and saw how unhappy they were.
Sam calls Rowena when he arrives at the Lachlans’ home. His plan is to force the witch to give up the spell that will reverse Dean’s condition so Rowena can cast it at the other end of the line. When things go wrong, Rowena drives the Impala to the Lachlans and leaves Dean in the backseat with a note explaining that his brother has been kidnapped and he needs to stay put. Dean still gets out of the car and goes straight to the trunk. Sam left instructions. Which gun to use, which bullets kill witches, and “NO!” to the grenade launcher.
Dean gets in just in time to stop Katrina Lachlan from killing Rowena. He also trust Sam instinctively when he refers to himself as “brother” and points to the remaining Lachlan, Boyd, as the target. After Rowena reverses the spell, Dean pretends not to recognize “this hippie” before teasing Sam with one of their shared childhood memory. Rowena tries to leave with the Grimoire but Sam confiscates the book. “You’re no fun”. “We owe you one.” Sam and Dean have one last conversation by the Impala. They’ve had the weight of the world on their shoulders since forever and Sam thinks Dean looked happy when he was free of it. Dean notes that losing the painful parts also meant losing everything else, “us” and “what we do”, and if this is what being happy looks like, he’ll pass.
Overall grade : 10/10
I am an absolute spoilervore, especially when it comes to my favorite show, and the synopsis for “Regarding Dean” was the first one to revive a glimmer of the spark I lost since “Alpha & Omega”. When I say “Regarding Dean” didn’t disappoint, I mean it delivered, from the previouslies (another overlooked indicator of how good an episode has the potential to be), to the final second.
It started with several scenes from the iconic “Malleus Maleficarum”, a scene from the fantastic “The Hunter Games” (one of my favorite Rowena scenes ever) in which her eyes go white as she casts a spell to listen in on Crowley’s conversation with the Winchesters, and a scene from my 10-Rated “The Werther Project”, in which Rowena works her purple fog magic on a hallucinating Sam. Vanesce!
I was sucked into the action from the beginning. Great opening scene with a chase through the woods at night “Wendigo”-style, then a fun visual effect with symbols flashing on a tree as the dying warlock, Gideon Lachlan casts his spell on Dean. By the time I laughed out loud at minute 7 (”Mo’ money, mo’ problems”), I had already been thoroughly entertained by Dean’s Alice in Wonderland rabbit encounter, him being mistaken for a bum by the woman who gave him a dollar bill with instructions to “just… don’t buy a drink”, and him finding the civilian answer to Sam, a tall, dark-haired jogger with a dog, who kindly lent Dean his phone and did some light stretching while he was waiting for him to complete his phone call (I bet that guy goes to law school too).
I also loved the brotherly banter during the waffle scene. Sam coming in with pills, teasing Dean about getting old and needing to slow down, and Dean responding that not only was there no expiration date on partying, but he could still kick Sam’s ass. The line sent my mind flying back to Dean’s “I’m the only one who can legitimately kick your ass in real time” from season 7’s unforgettable ”Hello Cruel World”.
Minute 9 and I was squeaking as Sam’s stunned and blurry face became the avatar for the audience’s reaction to the terrifying question: “Who’s Dean?” Less than 10 minutes in, and I was feeling more entertained watching Supernatural than I have in a while. The Bon Jovi test reminded me that while Sam’s the Bon Jovi fan, Dean could be given a slight pass because he only thinks “Bon Jovi rocks. On occasion”. Cue the misty eyes for the brothers sing-along in the car in “No Rest for the Wicked”, as Dean’s crossroads deal is coming due.
There was no shortage of funny scenes. One was Dean saying how the last thing he remembered was getting ice and then taking the lid off the bucket to show it Sam (it was also troubling and sad). Also funny with a side of sad, Dean taking another cigar as “douche tax” from the dead accountant’s office, which was a great way to show that memory loss didn’t affect his personality.
My heart was broken by minute 18 at Dean’s enthusiastic reaction to being told he was a hunter. How lost to himself did he have to be to forget the quest he devoted his life to? On the topic of the hunt, I loved watching Sam in action from the morgue to the way he retraced Dean’s steps. He was focused and trying to keep it together in spite of Dean’s jarring reactions and the pain of having to watch him devolve in front of his eyes.
“Why aren’t you…you?”
Sam remained stoic as long as he could but he started to quietly unravel when he caught a glimpse Dean watching cartoons with the eagerness of a small child, and that was before Rowena even told him how bad things were going to get. Dean’s response “Sucks for that guy!” to overhearing Rowena saying that Dean Winchester was going to die is the moment Sam starts to break. His eyes are wet when he tells Dean they will figure out a solution in the next scene and his heart is so heavy that he confides in Rowena, whom he doesn’t even trust. As the hour of Dean’s death grows close, he becomes a little more desperate, a little less careful as we see when he enters Katrina’s room leaving himself wide open since he knows there’s a second witch in the house (Boyd) that he hasn’t neutralized yet.
“I wouldn’t be freaking Dory.”
It’s telling that Dean chose the amnesiac fish from Disney’s “Finding Dory” to reference to himself at the same time he was denying anything was wrong with his memory. I found the progression of Dean’s condition fascinating. He was already off at the waffle house. “Devil Baby Mama Drama, say that five times fast”, and then he proceeded to repeat it, already looking less mentally alert, and in a tone that, coupled with the way he licked his knife put me right back inside that diner from “How to Make Friends and Influence Monsters”. Dean acted in a similiar way when his mind started deteriorating after he ate the turducken sandwich.
During the morgue scene, he was getting “Yellow Fever” squeamish and his goofy and out of place “Mo’ money, mo’ problems” (he’s often inappropriate but here the tone and delivery are a bit different) reminded me again of his turducken-induced babbling: “I don’t give two shakes of a rat’s ass.” “Do rats shake their ass or…”
Things got serious when Dean forgot how to deal with his own car. This is a clear indication that something is wrong with the person behind the wheel, like when Gary body snatched Sam and took his place in “Swap Meat”.
I always describe Dean as having a childlike quality about him. I love how happy he gets when he discovers goodies like when he found chocolates on their beds in “Hammer of the Gods” but his chirping about the “tiny vodkas” in the mini fridge showed how easily distracted he was becoming. One second he was admonishing Sam for calling Rowena and the other, look, pocket-sized booze! Two seconds later, he’s on this urgent mission to get some ice.
This scatterbrained behavior turns Sam into a worried parent and he’s in slight panic mode when Dean wonders off and he finds him trying to open the door to the wrong motel room. Even then, Dean still has his sense of humor : “all these dumps look the same”. Watching Sam take on a more paternal role made me think of the “Your son is so polite” line from “About A Boy” in which Dean reverts back his teenage years after yet another witch spell.
Dean’s excitement at finding out that he can shoot guns is another moment of contrast between the giddiness of the character and the tragedy of what is happening to him from the point of view of Sam and the audience. The Djinn and Siren references were great callbacks to two true masterpieces of this show, season 2 “What Is and What Should Never Be” and season 4 “Sex and Violence”.
“Best job ever!” It is always interesting to see how the Winchesters react to hunting when they forget who they are. Sam was eager to dive in “It’s a Terrible Life” and Amnesiac!Dean is jazzed up about the whole concept. “We kinda sound like heroes to me.” And he’s still the same fearless guy inside, as evidenced by his unusually upbeat reaction to finding a dead body. He’s a lot less careful however, opening the door like a civilian because somebody knocked while Sam is cocking his gun ready for all kinds of trouble. A great visual metaphor for how vulnerable Dean has become.
I was amused by the flirtatious exchange between Dean and Rowena. Childish as Amnesiac!Dean may be, he’s still a grown man who remembers his Skinemax and he looked at both Sam and Rowena when he asked them if he’s getting the “live” version. Forgive him, he knows not what he says. I wish he could have hooked up with the waitress again because it looks like he needs to blow off a little more steam. Still happy he got some action. It’s been too long and it makes no sense for this “bonny lad” to continue living like some monk.
By this time in the episode, Dean as we know him is lost to us and we don’t know how he feels about what’s going on. We’re given an amazing chance to peek into his mind. Our Dean returns for a few minutes after Sam reminds him of who he is, and he’s scared because he can feel everything seeping away. The manner of his impeding death, being robbed of his mind until he forgets how to breathe is especially hard to take for a man who’s vowed to go down swinging, and he clings to what’s left of himself in one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the series: “My name is Dean Winchester.” “My name is… I don’t know.”
I’m grateful that the episode chose to celebrate the strong and vibrant spirit that is Dean. It could have gone on with him losing more and more of himself as we wept, waiting for someone to save him but that has never been our Dean. He’s as stubborn as Rowena said, and that heart, that need to help those in trouble, and my goodness, that innate talent and the muscle memory that will not let him be anything but a great shot even in his condition, allowed our hero to prevail and save his own life by saving Rowena and Sam, with the help of the fifth best character of the episode (if you come up with four, you forgot Baby): the post-its! Thumbs up, Dean!
Best Dean moments
The mirror scene. This is the second mirror scene that illustrates Dean’s struggle to recognize the person looking back at him this season. Is there a possible thread for a Dean arc going on here? We’ll see. Either way, it was heart-wrenching, and Jensen was amazing.
That rabbit scene. There was so much there. First there’s the obvious fall down the rabbit hole nod to Alice in Wonderland. There’s also a nod to the role of the rabbit in witchcraft. We can hear Dean ask in the previouslies “Why’s the rabbit always get screwed in the deal?” I hope that after he ‘sobered up’, he was glad to have encountered one rabbit who didn’t get screwed, in spite of the witches living in the vicinity.
The scene also reminded me of one of my favorite moments from season 11, Dean waking up in the field of yellow flowers, courtesy of Amara. It’s the first ever “Favorite Dean moment” from the first ever “Winchester Brothers Report”. I called it “Sleeping Beauty”, which brings me to not quite Alice but still a cartoon. I couldn’t help thinking about the Disney trope of the good prince (well it’s usually a future princess) to whom cute animals flock as a way for the narrative to highlight the character as pure of heart and on the verge of embarking on some life-changing journey. Either way, I loved it.
Dean being booped on the nose. First to do it was Interruped!Sam in season 5. Second was Rowena in “The Werther Project”. As far as Dean remembers, only the first one happened but I thought it was adorable. How cute is he?
Dean comes for witch number 2 armed with his gun and a post-it in case she has questions. “You got soul, you got class. You got style with your bad ass.” You told us in “Stairway to Heaven” and now Dean I am telling you. Ain’t no other man like you!
Dean and his waffles. “What psycho doesn’t love waffles. I mean, they’re fluffy, have the little pockets full of syrup, you just cover them with cream, am I right?” I talked about how much I like Dean’s voracious appetite for food and for life two weeks ago. Look at my baby going for seconds. This is becoming a fetish for me… Oh who am I kidding, it’s been one since he started devouring fancy canapés and smelling the champagne like it was wine in “Provenance” and it got out of hand when when he took the time to grab an appetizer from a wandering tray while Bela Talbot was fake passed out in his arms in “Red Sky At Morning”. Eat up, Big Boy!
The joy on Dean’s face when he discovers the guns in the trunk. Soldier Dean, reporting for duty!
Dean shooting witch number three. 3 out of 3. This is what I mean by innate talent and muscle memory. This guy doesn’t remember his own name and is on his way to forgetting how to swallow!
Dean. Winchester. Riding. The bull.
Best Sam moments
Sam and his lamp post-it. The first of many. Can I just say how much I love him for this? There were everywhere by the end of the episode.
Sam worried about Dean. Sam did his best to remain cool as a cucumber around Dean. He worked so hard and did everything he could to save his brother. I want to give him a big hug right now.
When Dean wasn’t around however, we could see how worried Sam was, like the time Dean ‘disappeared’ in search of ice. Also take a moment to admire this 6’5 tower of handsome slowmotioning in his FBI suit while the winds blows. #priorities
Detective Sam on the case! Sam showing off his investigative skills was another part of the episode I really enjoyed. He was on the ball!
Sam telling Rowena seeing Dean like this might be worse than the times he had to watch him die. Can I hug him now? Like seriously.
Caretaker Sam putting Dean in front of cartoons to keep him occupied while he talks about scary things with Rowena. Don’t mind me, just crying in my Cheerios.
Sam’s face after Dean’s “who’s this hippie” joke. So much dust in this room… Rip my heart out Jared, why don’t you?
Sam still vetoing the grenade launcher via post-it. That was a very funny moment. I’m sure he’ll cave for the finale, Dean. Hang in there.
Sam trying to comfort Dean. “We’ll figure it out.” They both look devastated. My babies!
Dean What’s My Name and Who Are You Again? Winchester saying Sam’s name when he hears him scream.
He also instinctively trusts Sam when Sam says he’s the “brother”.
Sam knowing his brother so well, he anticipates that Dean would try to get involved if things went wrong, so he tells him what to do via post-it, just in case. Crying in the bowl of cereals intensifies.
Ten fingers up! My personal recipe for a 10 is as follows: lots of Sam and Dean, lots of Jared and Jensen showcasing their talents, a focus on the brotherhood, and awesome side characters!
It’s no wonder my last Perfect 10 (season 11) saw the return of Chuck Shurley in his divine glory, the amulet, had Sam expressing his fear Dean would abandon him for Amara and had Dean inhaling a poisoned fog to prove to Sam how wrong he was. Metatron (hey, another waffle reference), had seriously grown on me by the time that episode aired and I was here for him too.
It’s even less surprising that my Perfect 10 for season 10 saw Rowena boop Dean on the nose, Benny make cameo, Sam go reckless to save Dean and the brothers bleed together to disarm my favorite MOL (after the brothers of course) Cuthbert Sinclair’s cursed Werther box.
I enjoy Supernatural the most when it puts the spotlight on its co-leads and they were at the top of their game. Jensen was simply amazing. He gave us a Dean who was childlike, vulnerable, funny and heartbreaking all at once. It felt wonderful to see him triumph in the end and still getting three out of three kills in spite of everything that’s was happening to him. The mirror scene will go down as one of Jensen’s many great scenes and to top it off, he gave us his patented “one perfect tear”! Jared shone in the emotional scenes, especially the one where he’s waiting for Dean at the bottom of the stairs.
I’ve been a Rowena fan since “Girls, Girls, Girls” and I loved her chemistry with Sam from the moment they started plotting together about the Book of the Damned. My favorite moment for the two of them in this episode is one where they just say each other’s names. Sam’s disapproving “Rowena” and Rowena’s cheeky “Samuel” after she has the nerve to ask if they should really fix Dean. I also really liked Rowena’s dynamic with Amnesiac!Dean and how after everything, she and Dean still shared a good laugh together.
I really appreciated the way the writer woved the BMOLs into Rowena’s story. We also got to learn a little more about her. I said in the “Devil In the Details” Report that Rowena and Crowley are very much alike. Chasing after power to escape difficult beginnings full of neglect and humiliation, and always getting back up no matter how many times they got knocked down. I’m thankful to Ruth Connell for always being a breath of fresh air (“What’s that? Six in a row? Beginner’s luck.”) and always knowing how to bring a smile to my face. “From the neck down, is he smooth like a Ken doll?” Thank you for the visual, Row. Always knew you were my girl!
Every season, I’m on this quest for the golden egg, my Perfect 10. It’s a wonderful feeling to find it and be reminded that the show I fell head over heels in love with all those years ago still has everything it takes to wow me. Drama, comedy, magic, love, hunting, Sam, Dean, the brotherhood and a splash of Cayenne Pepper Red for spice!
Thank you Meredith Glynn for writing this episode.
Thank you Jensen Ackles.
Thank you Jared Padalecki.
Thank you Ruth Connell.
Thank you Supernatural.
“I was like a god.”
“Well, Dean. We don’t call you a Virile Manifestation of the Divine for nothing…”
The Winchester Brothers Report by Vee
12.01: “If he is not in one piece I will take you apart.”
12.02: “The only thing we had was each other.”
12.03: “Family hunting trip.”
12.04: “I hate you so much right now.”
12.05: “What do you think this is? Tickle party?”
12.06: “Where is my brother?”
12.07: “The brothers that rock together.”
12.08: “Impeach LOTUS, find Rosemary’s baby.”
12.09: “We’re the guys who saved the world.”
12.10: “I can’t see, did you get a plate?”