So, Supernatural’s Regarding Dean…
Here is the thing with television. The magical combination of brilliant writing and superb acting is fairly rare, and a gift we should all hold close and treasure.
Regarding Dean isn’t one of those gifts. The concept is fantastic. I loved Memento, and there is something truly terrifying and heartbreaking about losing yourself, or watching someone you love vanish before your eyes. But any magic in this episode exists solely because of the acting talent of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki. The script (by Meredith Glynn) was good, but nothing particularly spectacular or memorable (Ha. Get it?), and in the end that’s fine only because we had both Jensen and Jared really bringing their A-games to sell it
It’s a fairly simple plot: A witch curses Dean, and he slowly forgets himself, his family, and how to speak. The curse at first manifests itself in small, funny moments, like when he calls a lamp a “light stick”, and when he gets SUPER excited to learn that their best friend is an angel. There are some sweet and sad moments, too, when Sam explains to him that witches and monsters are real, and it’s a poignant reminder of when Dean tells Sam about their life when they’re kids. The highlight of the episode for me is also the most completely heart-wrenching and terrifying moment: Watching Dean look into a mirror and reciting his name, the names of his family members and best friend, and within the space of the sentence, forgetting it all. The stark fear and panic Jensen plays out sells this entire concept. I don’t talk about it enough, but Jensen Ackles may be one of the best “micro-actors” out there, able to convey and project emotions without saying a word. It says something that the strongest moment in this episode is the one with very few, if any, words.
After Sam puts together how Dean came to be cursed, they do their usual investigating, retracing Dean’s footsteps, when we learn that Dean has mad mechanical bull riding skills. Sam calls Rowena for help, and we’re treated to some really cute and harsh scenes between Dean and Rowena. She wants to keep him the laid back puppy he is, but quickly shifts to tell him how nice it must be to not remember all the wrong you’ve done. It may just be me, but I sense a little longing in Rowena there.
Anyway, she tells the boys that an old Celtic witch family is responsible for Dean’s predicament, and that it is fatal, as he will eventually forget basic bodily functions such as swallowing and feeding himself. Sam is ready to stop writing post-it notes to leave all over the place for Dean, as well as stop babysitting his drunk toddler of a brother long enough to confront the witches and kill them, saving Dean. While he’s at their property, he calls Dean and Rowena, who overhear him being magically bitch slapped and go to the rescue. Dean (who has forgotten how to speak, but can somehow still read) is once again thwarted in his plans to use the grenade launcher (my favorite running joke), this time via post-it notes, grabs his gun and in his own cute, mute Dean way, kills first one witch, when he is confronted by two strangers. Except one of those strangers is his brother. Sam yells “No! No! Brother”, then pointing to the other man, “Witch!” and it says something about the deep, intrinsic trust between them that Dean immediately kills the witch without question. Yay all is well in the world, and Rowena doesn’t get yet another powerful grimoire, though not for lack of trying on her part.
So I know I went on and on about Jensen’s acting in this episode, but Jared Padalecki deserves kudos, too. He really stepped up his game here, shifting from incredulity to exasperation to genuine fear smoothly. As someone who has watched someone they love disappear into themselves until they don’t know you, his acting struck a chord with me.
BAMF– I gotta give this to Jensen. How this many doesn’t have all the awards shows how little credit genre television gets.
Bonus: We got to see Dean ride a mechanical bull named Larry.
Extra bonus: if you want to see The Mirror Scene in all it’s tragic glory: click here.