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25 December 2007 @ 09:00 pm
Supernatural University: Keeping Secrets  

Supernatural University:  Keeping Secrets


Secrets are a Winchester stock-in-trade. From the beginning of the first season, John Winchester was the master secret-keeper, but his two sons have also done their share. And in part one of the season two finale, we learned that Mary Winchester had kept some pretty whopping secrets of her own, ones we and her sons still have yet to learn and understand.


Like the Winchesters, we all keep secrets. But what do they – and we – keep secret, from whom, and why? Welcome to another psychology seminar at Supernatural University!


My thesis for this class is relatively simple. The things we keep secret will vary naturally according to our lives and circumstances, as will the people with whom we share or from whom we conceal our secrets. Our propensity for keeping secrets also varies widely, based on our own personalities. I believe, however, that the reasons why we keep secrets are more universal. I would posit that we as humans have four primary reasons for keeping certain things secret:  to protect ourselves; to protect others; to fulfill demands of duty; and to preserve a tactical or strategic advantage. I would also submit that our reasons for keeping things secret relate directly both to the nature of those secrets and to our personalities, and that relationship will often dictate more than one reason for keeping or revealing a given secret. As ever, I’ll use the Winchesters and their secrets to explore these concepts.


Protecting Ourselves


Self-protection on many levels is a major reason for keeping secrets. We keep secrets to avoid painful social, physical, and emotional consequences to ourselves that could arise from others learning about things we’ve done or believing things about us on the basis of learning things we’ve hidden.


Simple examples are obvious. Just remember a time when you broke something or failed in a responsibility and tried to hide it to escape punishment, embarrassment, or shame. Many Winchester secrets fall into this category, including the obvious social ones involving avoiding being caught and imprisoned for breaking the law while dealing with supernatural phenomena that the law wouldn’t understand. As Sam put it succinctly in Route 666:  Our big family rule number one: we do what we do and we shut up about it.  One of the primary reasons that the Winchesters and other hunters keep their vocation secret is that society would punish them severely for the things they do in pursuit of it:  they kill, they desecrate graves, they destroy property.


But I believe that the secrets that matter the most in this regard are the ones we keep to guard against the pain we often fear the most: emotional pain from shame, guilt, and the loss of love, respect, and trust from ourselves and from the people we need and love the most. I would put into this category the secrets that Sam has kept from Dean about himself, for example. Think back to Sam’s first reluctant admission to Dean in Home that he had clairvoyant dreams, and his hesitation in telling Dean in Nightmare that he had moved the cabinet with his mind after seeing a vision of Dean’s death. Sam knew better than anyone how Dean felt about supernatural things and psychic abilities, and I would posit that the largest part of Sam’s hesitation in admitting his gifts to Dean stemmed from the fear that Dean would look at him differently because of that knowledge, that Dean would treat him like a freak. Sam himself was afraid, ashamed, and guilty about being different. Every time Sam mentioned his visions, he waited for Dean to weird out. Dean never did, staunchly maintaining his unchanged love for his brother even though he didn’t know what to make of the new information any more than Sam did.


Even so, Sam apparently still hasn’t told Dean about his vision of the Yellow-Eyed Demon feeding him demon blood as a baby, and I think that goes back to the same fear – his concern that Dean would be revolted not just by the image, but by what it implies about Sam himself. This is complicated by Sam not entirely knowing or understanding what he himself feels about the secrets he knows, because they are all incomplete. He doesn’t know what they mean, and he fears that they portend a fate he can’t avoid: becoming something evil, something the man he currently is would hate and fear. Since he’s afraid of them, he assumes that Dean would be afraid of them too and would fear him as well because of them, and would possibly even resent him for causing the fear.


I would put half of Dean’s “game face” into this same category of self-protection. Dean can occasionally share his fears and uncertainties with others – witness his discussions with Gordon in the bar in Bloodlust and with Bobby at the end of Sin City – but he has had the greatest difficulty exposing fear to Sam. While there’s definitely a strong element of protecting Sam involved in that – it’s obviously a habit he developed when Sam was a child, hiding his own fear and pain in order to keep Sam from becoming afraid – it also seems to involve keeping Sam’s trust in and good opinion of his older brother as confident, brave, and strong, someone Sam can count on always to be there. As much as Sam doesn’t want Dean to look at him differently because of the demon’s influence, Dean doesn’t want Sam to see him as something less than the hero big brother he’s always tried so desperately to be.


One of the most riveting recent developments of season three has been Dean lowering his walls to let Sam see his regrets and his fears, at least the ones about his own looming fate. I would submit that this happened only because Sam removed the need for Dean to keep those particular secrets hidden when he demonstrated three things to Dean in Fresh Blood: first, that he could already see through the mask to the fear; second, that knowing Dean was terrified didn’t diminish him in Sam’s eyes; and third, that Dean trying to mask his fear and keep his emotional distance from Sam was hurting his brother far more than sharing the fear would. Sam dissolved the reasons for keeping the secret, and the secrecy ended.


Protecting Others


By far the largest and most important driver behind Winchesters keeping secrets is the desire to protect others, and that applies to all three of the Winchester men. I already mentioned protecting Sam in connection with Dean hiding all of his uncertainties and fears in order not to exacerbate Sam’s own fears. We know from both All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2 and A Very Supernatural Christmas that protecting Sam from fear and from having to grow up too soon was Dean’s prime reason for dodging Sam’s childhood questions about why they kept moving around, what their father did, and why they didn’t have a mom.


I think that protecting Dean is largely behind Sam keeping secret the knowledge that their mother recognized the Yellow-Eyed Demon the night she died, and that everyone connected with her, apart from her two sons, is dead. Part of keeping silent may be uncertainty about just how much of what he was shown about the night of the fire was the truth – after all, we know full well that demons lie – as well as not understanding what the deaths of all those other people mean. But I think that protection matters more than the uncertainty. Sam has always known that Dean idolizes their Mom, that his close-held memories comprise her shrine. We saw that early in the pilot when Dean turned angrily on Sam the moment that Sam said that Mom was gone and never coming back. We saw the wonder, love, and loss on Dean’s face when the boys saw Mary’s spirit in Home.  We caught a glimpse of what Dean remembered when he talked about Mary in Houses of the Holy. And if there was any question about just how deeply his love and desire run, it was answered last season in What Is and What Should Never Be. Revealing what the Demon showed Sam, with its implication that Mary was less than innocent of a supernatural taint in days before any other Winchester even knew that the supernatural was real, would at a minimum trigger Dean’s anger and refusal to accept the information, and could at worst, if he accepted it, shatter the last pure memory of innocence and joy that Dean possesses and still believes. Neither outcome is one that Sam would wish, not loving his brother as he does. Thus I believe that he keeps this secret to protect his brother, as Dean protected him and his innocence.


I would say as well that protecting his sons was the primary motivation for John keeping secrets from them about his hunts, the hunter community, and the things he learned – especially anything he learned about his younger son. I would suspect that his initial reason for keeping secrets fell into the categories he’d been trained to observe while in the Marines – preserving tactical and strategic advantage (the principle underlying the doctrine of “need to know”), and fulfilling duties owed to his benefactor hunters to protect their identities – but that those reasons would largely have been subsumed within the higher priority of protecting his sons from danger and from pain. We learned in the first two seasons that there were things missing from John’s journal – any mention of the shtriga, vampires, or rituals to summon demons being cases in point – and looking at the nature of some of the missing things, such as the shtriga and demon summoning, it’s not hard to see protection as the point of the exercise. John had to figure that sooner or later, one or both of the boys would see the journal, and we know from the Christmas episode that this happened far sooner than he would have intended. As a personal aside, I suspect that the shtriga incident was left out largely in order not to be a reproach to Dean, but also because John may have regretted how hard he’d come down on his oldest boy and been ashamed of his own shortcomings.


It’s fascinating to see now the fallout from John’s secrecy. Only after his death did the boys discover that there was a whole network of hunters out there, not just the select few (including Pastor Jim, Caleb, and Bobby) to whom John had introduced them. There, John’s secrecy worked against his sons, putting them at a disadvantage in encounters with hunters who knew all about them, but whom they didn’t know at all. It also may have been extremely protective, however, especially once John began to realize that there was something about his younger son that would raise the hackles on hunters’ necks. The boys didn’t know about the world of hunters, but few hunters ever got close enough to take their measure before they were fully grown.


In Bad Day at Black Rock, the boys learned another piece of the puzzle when they found out about John’s storage locker. Again, John had never placed information on it in his journal, where it might have been discovered, and he never told the boys where the truly dangerous things he’d encountered  but not destroyed – perhaps was unable to destroy – were safely locked away. When they were young, preserving their ignorance clearly would have been protective, keeping them from knowledge they weren’t ready to have and preventing any potential mischief from meddlesome curiosity by inquisitive and stubborn boys. I suspect that by the time they were old enough to have been let in on the secret, keeping it had become habit with John, part of his standard operating procedure, and until they had a need to know, operational caution dictated preserving the advantage of the information.


Fulfilling Demands of Duty


I mentioned John likely having had to protect the other hunters with whom he worked, in terms of keeping their identities secret even from the boys. And many of the routine secrets that both boys keep were always maintained out of the need to obey orders and fulfill their duty to their father and each other. Duty is right up there along with protecting themselves in terms of dictating that the secret of the Winchester family business be kept closely held. Thus, Sam lied to Jessica about his past through the whole of their relationship (although self-protection also likely factored into that one, since, as Dean independently learned to his loss, telling your girlfriend something totally insane about your life could lead to a quick end to a relationship), and both boys kept the secret in the schools and neighborhoods where they grew up while on the road with John. Keeping that secret from most people wasn’t a problem for any of the Winchesters.


But it created a unique problem for Dean in specific instances, and this is one of the areas where the personality factor I mentioned earlier comes into play. We’ve often noted the personality similarities and differences among the Winchesters, and I would submit that they factor into both the tendency to keep secrets and the choice of which secrets to keep. I would also posit that this is one area in which the similarities between John and Sam come sharply into focus, and point out a key difference between Dean and the others: that Dean, alone among the Winchesters, is not a committed secret-keeper, at least when it comes to keeping secrets from those he loves for any reason other than protecting them. We learned this early on in the first season in Route 666, when Dean, to Sam’s utter mystification and surprise, reluctantly admitted to Sam that he had told Cassie about the family business, and confessed to Cassie that he had told her because he couldn’t lie to her – not to someone he loved. That was something Sam had never realized about his brother, given how few people there were to whom Dean ever gave his heart, and I suspect that John never knew it either. In the aftermath of those flashback moments in A Very Supernatural Christmas, I would bet that John, seeing his younger son coming up with information he shouldn’t have had about the family business, attributed it to his native intelligence and ingrained, stubborn curiosity giving him the incentive to purloin the journal and the ability to winkle additional pieces of knowledge out of his older brother, not to the simple truth that Dean couldn’t long resist Sam’s puppy-dog eyes even on his father’s orders.


So John laid an incredibly harsh duty on Dean when he gave Dean the burden of his secret (Watch out for Sam. Save Sam. Nothing else matters. If you can’t save him, you’ll have to kill him.), and ordered him not to tell Sam. John clearly understood the love between his sons and the strain that having to contemplate possibly needing to kill Sam would put on Dean, but I don’t believe he comprehended the additional tension that keeping the secret would cause. I don’t think that John realized what would happen when he pitted his duty order for secrecy against Dean’s soul-deep need not to lie to the most important person in his life about something so essential. Trying to deal with the burden of that secret throughout the first half of the second season, particularly keeping it from Sam, nearly destroyed Dean; we saw him on the edge in Croatoan, and it wasn’t until after he revealed the secret to Sam in Hunted that Dean began to find an effective way within his own mind to deal with the pressure, culminating with his resolve in Born Under a Bad Sign that he would save Sam if it was the last thing he did.


Preserving Tactical or Strategic Advantage


Judging from his behavior throughout the series, but particularly as demonstrated in such episodes as Scarecrow and Dead Man’s Blood, John’s Marine Corps training, with its automatic acceptance of the doctrine of “need to know,” came to the fore when he became a hunter. John kept operational secrets from his sons not just to protect them by keeping them out of certain activities, but also to avoid tipping his hand to his opponents. Remember his phone call in Scarecrow, where he refused to tell Sam where he was or any specifics about what he was doing, saying only, This is bigger than you think. They’re everywhere. Even us talking right now, it’s not safe. In hindsight, we know that he was in part concealing from Sam the knowledge he was in the process of acquiring about his youngest son and the Demon’s plans, but he was also clearly concerned about both the potential interception of his message by enemies and the chance that any contact could provide a link that enemies could follow from him to his boys. While keeping them safe, he was also preserving whatever advantage he could obtain from hiding his own knowledge from both his enemies and his sons.


John’s habit of maintaining operational secrecy even from his boys was obviously part of what caused the rift between John and Sam. Think of Sam’s immediate irritation in Dead Man’s Blood with John’s habit of simply giving orders without providing explanations, expecting unquestioning obedience as he had always done. I would suspect that John may have been similarly irritated by being kept partially in the dark by other hunters in the days when he was first learning the ropes as a hunter himself. I would posit that at their cores, John and Sam are both seekers after truth and understanding, first and foremost: being denied information is being baulked in an essential facet of their personalities. Dean, on the other hand, is at heart a protector and defender whose interest in information is limited to knowing what he needs in order to be effective in his mission. Accordingly, I would say that acquiring knowledge and keeping it secret are more automatic and intrinsically important to John and Sam than to Dean, and that this further demonstrates that personality has an impact on seeking and keeping secrets.


The current champion at maintaining secrecy for tactical or strategic advantage is not a Winchester at all, but Ruby. Neither we nor the Winchesters know what Ruby’s goals are, or what plans she has for Sam in the long run. Everything about her intent remains hidden. She knows what she’s after, but no one on the Winchesters’ side does. That gives Ruby a tremendous advantage in dealing with the brothers, particularly when she does understand what their goals are. Because of that, she can predict them and their likely actions and reactions with some degree of certainty; they can’t predict her at all. 

Past and Future


What was the nature of Mary’s secrets, and what prompted her to keep them? At present, I think that we don’t know enough to allow informed speculation. We don’t know whether what the Demon showed Sam was the truth, but even if it was, we still don’t know how or why Mary recognized the Demon. Without knowing something about those circumstances, I couldn’t guess whether she was protecting herself, her husband and sons, her duty, or her tactical position by not revealing to them the existence of the supernatural and her relationship to it. From what we have seen of her, I would suspect that she, like Dean, was a protector and defender – but since all of our glimpses of her, save for the opening moments of the pilot, have truly come through the eyes of her husband and sons, all that we know is flavored by their feelings, their love, and my guess is really nothing more than the expression of Mary through her husband and her oldest son.


What role will secrets play between the brothers from this point on, and why? I would suspect that Dean will continue to try to hide from Sam his fears about whether Sam came back from death changed, mostly in an effort to protect Sam from being harmed by the knowledge of his doubts while Sam is struggling with his own. But I think Dean will be less and less inclined to keep other secrets from his brother, having learned both from watching interactions between his father and brother and from Sam’s reaction to his own falsely fearless, carefree façade that Sam is hurt by perceiving secrets being withheld from him. Dean’s concern with preventing injury to Sam would override most of the other incentives for keeping most secrets.


I think that Sam will continue to try to keep the secrets of his vision of Mary recognizing the Demon and of him being fed demon blood as a baby to protect Dean and to protect himself, respectively. And I think that Sam will also continue to try to keep secret most of his interactions with Ruby, and what transpires inside him as a result of them, to protect both his brother and himself. However, given that he can’t hide that he’s accepting becoming inured to taking whatever actions he feels are necessary to save his brother, even where those actions contravene his earlier philosophy on life, I think that all of those secrets will be in jeopardy precisely because Dean will resist Sam becoming something other than the brother he loves through his attempt to save Dean. While Dean is not normally a seeker after truth, he may become one when it comes to understanding what’s going on inside Sam, because that understanding will be required for him to fulfill his own imperative of being able to defend and protect his brother.


What can we learn from the Winchesters about our own secrets? First and foremost, we can understand why we keep certain secrets from specific people around us, and weigh whether or not keeping those secrets will actually accomplish our goals. Further, we can become sensitive to why the people who are important to us may keep certain secrets from us, and factor that knowledge into tempering our judgment of them when we either suspect the existence of a secret or learn the information for ourselves.


We can also understand that most secrets have finite lives, because hidden knowledge inevitably comes out whether we choose to reveal it or someone else betrays it despite our efforts to keep it concealed. Knowing that, we can consider what impact the revelation of the secret would have on us and on the people important to us, and determine whether the secret is actually worth keeping, or if the cost to us in shame, pain to someone we love, the loss of the respect of others, or similar stakes when it eventually comes out would hurt us more than declining to hide the information in the first place.


Finally, we can acknowledge when secrets have to be kept, no matter the price: when duty is vital, when harm can be averted, when the safety of others depends on them.




This will likely be the last Supernatural University class of the year, so – Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you – and the Winchester brothers – next year.

Current Mood: anxiousanxious
Current Music: "For My Brother" by Blue October
Killing threads since 2000 CE: Huhgwendolyngrace on December 26th, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
I can't say anything coherent here except to bob my head in perfect agreement.
bardicvoice: Christmas Window by <lj user=ellie_fo_20bardicvoice on December 26th, 2007 07:06 pm (UTC)
fannishlissfannishliss on December 26th, 2007 03:25 am (UTC)
This is a great post, very logical and orderly. I had a few thoughts that just follow on yours.

In Season 3, the big problem is Dean's deal and what to do about it. Dean kept the deal a secret from Sammy at the end of Season 2 for about five minutes! before Sam saw right through him.
Dean was compelled to keep the secret for two reasons: first, as he told Bobby, he didn't want Sammy to undergo the emotional anguish of knowing that his brother would be suffering in hell on his behalf. Second, he didn't want Sammy to drop dead because of trying to interfere with the deal. Both of these motivations fall into your category of Dean as a Defender and keeper of Protective Secrets, even tho Sammy immediately figured out the secret about the deal.
Then, Dean tried to pretend he was satisfied with his fate, not so much to keep intact his image of himself as a stoic big brother, but so that Sammy would have less motivation to break the deal. Again, more protective of Sammy than of himself, or for any other reason. Dean seems to be a bit torn between trying to figure out if Sammy is trying to save him - he orders him not to -- but he doesn't really pry into what Sam is up to. Dean's ready to accept secrets from John, and apparently this habit extends to Sam too. I think Sam can scheme with Ruby in secret to save Dean partly because Dean habitually operates on an I -don't-need-to-know basis, even though consciously he would prefer Sam not try to break the deal.

So, Dean respects the judgement of others when it comes to keeping secrets, but is pretty transparent to others when he has a secret of his own, even if he has a strong motivation to keep the secret. It is a combination of too painful for him and simply too difficult. Near to secrets are lies, and Dean is a ready liar, but not a very good one.
Sam, tho, in terms of strategy, wants to keep secrets of his own, but refuses to be denied the strategic advantage of knowing the secrets held by others. So if John gives a cryptic order, or Dean shows a pained and distracted countenance, Sam will want to know why, even if he himself is full of secrets.

Sue: Dean  confessescandygramme on December 26th, 2007 06:43 am (UTC)
Very thought provoking essay there. I think I agree with you on the whole, especially with regard to Sam and Dean, but I'm afraid that:

The current champion at maintaining secrecy for tactical or strategic advantage is not a Winchester at all, but Ruby.

I don't think I'd nominate Ruby as champion. As you say somewhere in the essay, we don't know enough about Mary's involvement with the demon, but we do know enough (Fact: Sam was one of 'the children'. Fact: Mary died at the Demon's hand. Fact: All Mary's friends have been systematically wiped out.) to make her the number one secret keeper, IMHO.

I for one hope that we do get more in that regard. Please, all the gods there are, and Calliope too, bring the writers' strike to a successful conclusion.

And you were listening to my very favourite song of all time, so yay!

Merry Christmas!
bardicvoice: ChristmasTime by <lj user=ellie_fo_20>bardicvoice on December 26th, 2007 07:27 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I put forward Ruby as a stellar example only of the fourth reason for keeping secrets - preserving tactical or strategic advantage. When you think about it, that's the coldest reason for keeping secrets; having an edge over someone else. Fits with a demon, I think.

I really want to learn more about Mama Winchester's secrets and why she kept them. I would definitely agree that, if the Demon's vision wasn't a lie and Mary did recognize him, and if the murders of everyone around her were indeed linked to something she knew and weren't intended just to make Sam think that there was indeed a secret there to find, when in truth it was all created as a distraction to prvent him from looking somewhere else for different information (I have a devious mind!), then she was undoubtedly the best secret-keeper among the Winchesters, since no one ever guessed at that [assumed] truth. And with Dean particularly in mind, I really do hope that if/when we learn the truth, we learn that Mary was, like her oldest son, a secret-keeper whose intent was the protection and defense of her family!

I fell in love with that Blue October song as an anthem for the Winchesters when I saw it used in a fanvid. My carpoolnmate John was kind enough to burn me a CD with the piece so that I could include it in my "Supernatural" playlist. Glad you like!
Suecandygramme on December 26th, 2007 08:21 pm (UTC)
I'm definitely with you in hoping Mary was a good guy rather than a weasel. Dean would be totally wrecked to discover that his beloved, adored mom was on the side of the demons. I can't imagine his distress. I'm still thinking that Ellen will turn out to be a baddie, and that will be a shock to him right there.

I don't suppose you happen to have a link to the fanvid for "For my Brother"? Or know who did the vidding? I actually bought a Sweet Charity vidder just to get a vid of that song, but my charity ho is still working on it, and I would love to see how it was interpreted. I have a vid for it worked out in my head. I can see it perfectly, but alas I have no clue how to actually put it together. *sigh* One day.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on December 27th, 2007 03:26 am (UTC)
Dear, I hunted down that vid; you'll find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNTOT4r_Jsk

Same artist has many more. This one was the first one that Supernaturally Obsessed (registered as SNObsessed on YouTube) ever did, which I find jaw-dropping. It's an oldie, from September 2006. Hope you enjoy!
Sue: Both Macho Bastardcandygramme on December 28th, 2007 01:35 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. You are a star!
bardicvoice: Christmas Window by <lj user=ellie_fo_20bardicvoice on December 26th, 2007 07:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for coming, and for adding to the lot!

I agree completely that Dean's primary motivation is protecting Sam from hurt, including the emotional pain of loss, grief, and guilt. While I assigned a bit of Dean's "game face" to self-protection, the bulk of it has always been to help Sam.

And I think Dean is torn. He doesn't want to die, but he REALLY doesn't want Sam to die, so knowing that Sam is skating on thin ice for him has to be frightening. It is interesting that he hasn't kept a closer watch on Sammy boy, especially knowing that Ruby is around and about and tempting him with Dean's salvation, but I think he may be afraid to learn too much.

I think that lies bother Dean only where they impinge on his relationships with people who matter to him. He's a breezy liar most times, but he can't lie effectively to anyone who truly matters to him, and those who are close to him know his tells. But I would say that he knows Sam's tells, too - remember the look on his face, after Sam had been brought back to life, when Dean asked Sam, after Sam said that Yellow-Eyes had appeared to him in a dream, whether he'd said anything else? Sam said "No," but far too quickly, too dismissively, and Dean gave him a look that I read as "There was something more there that you aren't tellig me." He clearly knew John's tells, well enough that spirit-Dean in "In My Time of Dying" knew when John was hiding from Sam something that he knew about what the Demon had meant when he said he had plans for Sam.

Loved your coda on Sam, too!
Danipinkphoenix1985 on December 26th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
brilliant! I totally agree!
bardicvoice: ChristmasTime by <lj user=ellie_fo_20>bardicvoice on December 26th, 2007 07:28 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
ladymirth: Frosty = Evil S.O.A.Bladymirth on December 26th, 2007 09:25 am (UTC)
Yet another wonderfully analytical meta, Mary! Great work! Although I agree with a poster above that the greatest secret-keeper so far has been Mama Winchester.
bardicvoice: ChristmasTime by <lj user=ellie_fo_20>bardicvoice on December 26th, 2007 07:31 pm (UTC)
I wouldn't disagree about Mama Winchester! If there is truth to the vision the Demon gave Sam, then Mary was better than any of the men at keeping a secret no one ever guessed! I want to know more ...

Thanks for coming by, and glad you liked!
raputathebuta: Toady's Elvisraputathebuta on December 26th, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
Excellent class as usual, Professor!

I am also hoping that KTMB gives us more information on Mary & what exactly she knew. We don't know hardly anything about her other than she was John's wife & mother to the boys. We've only heard of an uncle & now these dead friends, but we have none of her history from before life as Mary Winchester (& not too much about that life either).

Ruby, Ruby, Ruby. The more she dangles that "helping save Dean" carrot in front of Sammy, the more I want to beat her to a pulp! We know nothing about her, other than she's a demon with a kickass knife. What kind of demon is she? Can she really do something about Dean's deal? What's her agenda with killing the other escaped demons? What more does she know about Mary?

I have to toss Bobby out there as a secret-keeper as well. I'm sure he probably doesn't know too much about what John may or may not have told the boys, but you'd think something big like the storage unit would have come up in conversation!

Speaking of Bobby, the BIGGEST secret of all is: WHERE THE HECK IS JOHN'S FREAKIN' TRUCK?!?!?!?!?!?!:-P
psychoactivtoad: spn - poke w stickpsychoactivtoad on December 27th, 2007 03:04 am (UTC)

For sale on craigslist.

Edited at 2007-12-27 03:08 am (UTC)
bardicvoice: All need is love by <lj user=chal>bardicvoice on December 27th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
ROFLMAO! I saw your pre-edit post, and almost corrected you ... *grinning*

I wonder who bought it?????
psychoactivtoad: spn - poke w stickpsychoactivtoad on December 27th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)

It kind of seemed sacrilegious to sell it, but I guess it doesn't make sense to keep it, and if it allows something else in the budget... how many classic rock songs do you think five thousand or so would get?
psychoactivtoad: spn - sam huhpsychoactivtoad on December 27th, 2007 04:06 am (UTC)
I wonder, too. I wonder if we'll ever find out. You'd think that if someone in the fandom bought it, it would come out at some point.
bardicvoicebardicvoice on December 27th, 2007 03:35 am (UTC)
Thanks, Rap!

All hunters are obviously secret-keepers to some degree, but Bobby definitely ranks up there - the storage unit being a case in point. Bobby's approach on secrets seems to be a neutral one, that he'll keep secrets he shares with one person apart from any others. I wonder just how many people he shares individual secrets with? He certainly seems to be well plugged into the hunter network ...

And on Ruby: I'm going to steal a comment I made in response to comments on this class over on TVG:
I fear Ruby betraying Sam's secrets to Dean. There's malice in her; I feel it. From where I stand, it seems she has a particular use in mind for Sam, but that her view of Dean is simply that he's a means of gaining access to and controlling Sam, not that he has any value in and of himself. I could see her trying to weaken both the bond between them and the influence that Dean can exert over Sam if it seems that he's opposing her too much, and spilling Sam's secrets would likely be the first thing she tried in order to break and distance Dean. Hate that thought ...
psychoactivtoad: spn - poke w stickpsychoactivtoad on December 27th, 2007 03:54 am (UTC)
This was great, Mary; it gave me a lot to think about.

I've always thought of John's secrets as being at least a little bit about maintaining control. I think that in choosing to keep many things to himself, he was trying to hold on to what little power he had in a world of where nothing, not even the nature of his son, was certain. I suppose this falls under protecting oneself, in that he needed some semblance of control in order not to fall into despair, and preserving strategic advantage.

I've wondered how soon John figured out that Mary was not a random target. Given that he was extremely selective with who in the hunting world he let into his son's lives, he must have had his suspicions early on.

I'm also very intrigued to find out how Mary knew the demon. I know you said we don't know if what the demon showed Sam was the truth, but I believe it was. I know demons are supposed to lie, but so far we've actually seen them be pretty honest, probably because the truth was more painful than any lie they might spin. They've twisted things somewhat, but the basic facts have been right.

My vote for Greatest Secret Keeper goes to Kripke. I know he tends to reveal spoilers in his interviews, but he manages to hold on to the whoppers that do a number on us even when we think we know what's going to happen.
raputathebuta: Toady's Elvisraputathebuta on December 27th, 2007 04:40 pm (UTC)
That damn Kripke! What a(n unbelievably AWESOME!) bastard!:-p
bardicvoice: John by JessicaRaebardicvoice on December 27th, 2007 05:25 pm (UTC)
Kripke DEFINITELY takes the prize, Toady!

I suspect that the Demon's vision was true, but when it comes to KTMB, I've found it best to keep my options (and my mind!) open. Just in case. Since we all know that we can add "sneaky" and "devious" to the standard adjective "magnificent."

And I have some defensible confidence that whatever the nature of the secrets Mary was keeping, she kept them out of love and protection. What I would point to as support is simply that, no matter what John discovered about her in his hunt, he never stopped loving her, grieving her, and wanting her back. Whatever happened involving Mary, John clearly didn't feel betrayed or wronged by it even though it cost the Winchester family all semblance of normality and meant that Sam would be challenged to his very soul. To me, that says that John didn't blame her for whatever role she played; to him, she was still the woman he loved.

Billie Bowtrunckle: Sam black and whitebowtrunckle on December 28th, 2007 11:14 pm (UTC)
Interesting meta!

A couple of your points got me thinking (never a good thing):

About Sam's secret about being fed demon blood as a baby, you wrote: Since he’s afraid of them, he assumes that Dean would be afraid of them too and would fear him as well because of them, and would possibly even resent him for causing the fear.

As you said, Dean has repeatedly shown regardless of what super secret curve balls Sam throws, he'll be (visibly) unswayed and stand by Sam's side, essentially counteracting Sam's fear of Dean's rejection. So, to me, it seems like there's got to be something else that's causing Sam to keep him mouth shut. Perhaps it's denial. Maybe Sam's so freaked out that his regular coping mechanisms can't accommodate this information and he's employing the if-I-ignore-it-maybe-it'll-go-away approach. Maybe if he doesn't verbalize it, it'll make it less real.

Also, I find it interesting that you think John purposefully self-censored his journal as a means of protecting the boys ... perhaps from what he deemed to be more psychologically damaging or too-close-to-home cases/creatures (the last bit is my interpretation). While this fits nicely with the John the protector and caring father persona, it somehow clashes with my impression of the journal's purpose. Based on Dean's words in the pilot, it seems that the journal was meant to be John's supernatural bible, a place where he catalogued information and jotted down his working theories for easy reference and so he could update/refine them for future use. Somehow leaving out vitally important information about demons (the things he was singularly obsessed with) seems to contradict the whole point of keeping a single journal. And based on the crazy amount of information John had tacked on the wall in "Salvation" and his thick file folder of stuff the boys had in "ELaC", there's just too much info to memorize.

So ... uh ... my point ... are you suggesting that John might've had a second journal, one that held his "secrets", one which he hid from the boys entirely?

Finally, I know that your premise here was only to discuss the Winchesters and how they keep their secrets, but this begs for a flip-side meta that discusses how secrets are revealed by non-Winchesters. In particular, how demons use secrets and their carefully crafted reveals to manipulate. :)

Enough of my babbling.
bardicvoice: JohnThinker by Cakehole_Catbardicvoice on January 4th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for coming! And thinking is ALWAYS a good thing ...

I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that John had a second journal (or diary) in which he kept his more personal and/or dangerous thoughts. In a way, the studio powers-that-be sort of suggested it (or at least implied that John had censored his journal before leaving it where his boys could find it) with the pages they posted over on the official website. That one began as a personal diary just days after the fire and encompassed detailed descriptions of people (including the boys) and encounters, including John bringing the boys to meet Missouri, while we learned in Home that the book the boys acquired in the pilot began simply with "I went to Missouri and learned the truth," with no suggestion that Missouri was a person and not a place.

I want to learn more about what John had in his storage facility, and if he may indeed have kept a more comprehensive record of his life and his hunts somewhere safely removed from his curious sons' inquisitive eyes!

And thanks for the idea of the flip-meta: I shall put on my thinking cap!
whimsywinx: SN-DeanJohnwhimsywinx on January 2nd, 2008 07:26 pm (UTC)
I wonder if the storage locker was something John always meant to tell the boys about when they were older and just never got around to it.

I also wonder if John kept certain things about hunting from the boys, not only to keep them safe and for control, but also because deep down, this wasn't the life he wanted for them, and so didn't want to draw them in too deeply. (No one ever said John wasn't conflicted.)

Now I'm picturing a second journal lying, waiting, under the seat of John's truck. He could have left just enough information for the boys in the journal to see them through until he could be reunited with them, and then just ran out of time.
bardicvoice: JohnThinker by Cakehole_Catbardicvoice on January 4th, 2008 01:16 am (UTC)
Hey, Whimsy!

The man was definitely conflicted ... I think what he eventually chose to share or not share about the storage facility would have depended in part on exactly what he kept there. I think it may have been his "escape" place, somewhere he could go to think as well as to store the dangerous remnants of hunts. And if he also hid there the things he discovered about his youngest boy, he'd have kept that knowledge far away from his boys.

I don't think he'd have left a journal with too much personal information about himself and his boys (as distinct from the insane-seeming notes in the main journal) in the truck: too insecure, too open to seizure and theft. But wouldn't it be a kick if he stored it online on a secure, password-protected server that he could have accessed from anywhere? And wouldn't it be wild if the boys found the URL and cracked the key? Sam may have disparaged his Dad's ability with non-weapon, non-car tech, but I'd bet that John would have been able and willing to employ information technology.

Hmm ... that gives me an idea. Maybe there's a story in that ...
whimsywinx: SN-FB28-Fixwhimsywinx on January 4th, 2008 03:36 pm (UTC)
Hmm indeed!