Supernatural University: Being Your Brother's Keeper
We know season eight is exploring issues of perception. Even if we didn't have the interview words of showrunner Jeremy Carver pointing that out, we'd have known it from what we've seen thus far of the conflict between the brothers, particularly given its basis in their differing experiences and views of those experiences from their year apart, and from Castiel's pointed demonstration in A Little Slice Of Kevin of the crucial difference between Dean's memories of events in Purgatory – his perception of reality – and the truth of what really happened when Castiel chose to remain behind.
As usual, however, there's more than a single theme to the season, and I think one many people have overlooked involves a question the show has been asking, albeit mostly rhetorically, from the beginning: how responsible are we for the well-being of others? Or in other words, to what extent are we – and Sam and Dean – personally, socially, ethically, and morally responsible for being our brothers' keepers? How much of our time, our substance, and ourselves must we give to others? When have we given enough? When can we say “no more” without feeling guilty or being called selfish? And do hunters owe a greater duty to others than those who don't know about the supernatural? Welcome to a philosophy and psychology discussion at Supernatural University!
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Sorry this has posted so late; I wrote it before Torn And Frayed aired, but it got held up in the queue for publication over at The Winchester Family Business, and my agreement with WFB is they get to post first. I think it's clear from the last two episodes that Dean has been able to adjust his perception at least a little to be able to see things from Sam's perspective!