No spoiler alert necessary for this week’s “Supernatural” recap, as Tuesday (Nov. 19) night’s episode, “Bad Boys,” put the big season-long mythology on hold in favor of learning about Dean’s secret backstory.
What secret backstory are we talking about, you’re probably asking yourself, as we’ve seen flashbacks of Dean at pretty much every age. We know everything about his past, more so than any one else on the show (and definitely more than Sam, since he doesn’t know about the choices *cough Zeke cough* that Dean’s been making this season). But in “Bad Boys,” we learned there was a two-month period when Dean was 16 that no one — not Sam, not us — knew the truth about.
While their father John was off on a hunt, Dean got busted trying to steal food for Sam (he had lost all their food money in a bet), and got sent to a reform home for a few months, ran by ex-con Sonny. Sam never even knew about it, since their dad told Sam that Dean was just lost on a hunt and Sam stayed at Bobby’s while John searched for Dean. He found Dean right away, but left him at the home for two months because he lost the food money. That sounds like John all right, always teaching Dean a lesson. Too bad we never got to see a flashback of John, we’ve been missing him!
How amazing was the casting of new young Dean? Say hello to Dylan Everett, who perfectly portrayed all of what we’ve come to know and expect from Jensen Ackles as Dean. Everett was Dean all the way, right down to the jumping jaw muscle and smirks. And he was even wearing his necklace that Sam gave to him! We haven’t seen that necklace in years.
This whole episode was full of nostalgic little easter eggs like that (including at the beginning of the hour when Sam sat down to read “The Wizard of Oz” since he was missing Charlie). But the thing is, while a nostalgic hour is always entertaining (when it’s well-done, which “Bad Boys” was as it had the classic feel of a Season 1 episode with its scary, ghost-centric case), putting all the fallen angels/hell civil war/Zeke/Cas/Crowley story lines on hold was more than a little frustrating.
Sure, it was great to see a time when Dean found a home where he could nest (his bunk was carved with devil’s traps and decorated with photos of him and his new girlfriend Robin), and a father figure in Sonny who outright told Dean he was proud of his achievements (which included wrestling awards from school). And sure, of course Dean never confided in Sam about his months at the home since he left only to continue taking care of Sam. And of course Dean still won’t admit to Sam why he left when he was so happy at Sonny’s.
But while the episode showed us something new about Dean’s past, it didn’t tell us anything new. We already knew that Dean craves a normal, stable home despite his obligations to the family business. And on the flip side of that, we already knew that Dean’s obligations to the family business prevent him from being able to have a normal, stable home.
Of course, while the episode was frustrating in terms of the season-long story, it was great to see Dean’s big-brother tendencies on full display. He just can’t turn off that protective switch. While Sam and Dean came to help Sonny with a ghost that was killing his employees and hurting the boys at the home, Dean took little Timmy under his wing. He taught Timmy how to “shake hands like a man” and helps him out with bullies. And when it becomes clear that Timmy is being haunted by the ghost of his mother, he helps Timmy learn to let go and let his mother find peace.
What did you think of “Bad Boys?” Were you grateful to get a look at Dean’s past that we never knew about, or were you too impatient to get back to the Season 9 arc?
“Supernatural” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.