The heart of “Supernatural” is the dysfunctional bond between Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles). The brothers have actually died for each other — and have endured hell, both literal and figurative, in order to avoid leaving each other alone. And yet, year after year, they have kept earth-shattering secrets from each other. So why all the lying?
Starting in the first season, Sam began the cycle by not telling Dean that he’d had psychic visions of his girlfriend’s death before it happened. Then it took half a season for Dean to finally tell Sam that his father had suggested that Dean might have to kill Sam. Sam kept his demon blood-drinking addiction and dangerous powers a secret from Dean for months, and when Dean decided to kill a childhood monster-buddy of Sam’s, he wasn’t exactly forthcoming.
In Season 8, the dishonesty will continue when Dean returns to Sam after a year in Purgatory. At San Diego Comic-Con, consulting producer Ben Edlund told Zap2it that Dean does have a few secrets from his time in Limbo that he doesn’t want Sam to know about — relating to Benny, the formidable man to whom Dean is indebted for his release.
So why do they lie (and lie, and lie some more)? Edlund says that the reason is surprisingly simple.
“Ultimately, they are pathologically dishonest with each other because John Winchester was pathalogically elusive to them,” Edlund says. They learned that the truth is this dangerous thing, and that you shouldn’t speak it. He even taught them to keep secrets from each other for strategic purposes.”
With all of the supernatural, apocalyptic, tragic drama woven into the show, Sam and Dean’s relationship is rooted in human emotion. “When you look at the dysfunction that they show to each other, it comes directly from how they were brought up, and that’s a kind of dysfunction that people in this world continue to face. ‘Why didn’t my dad tell me that he loved me yesterday?’ We’re just people sharing the same kind of thing,” Edlund says.
He does acknowledge that the lying can get tiresome for viewers, and that it’s something over which the writers have voiced concerns. “I do believe that’s a tension that we have to be careful with, because we’ve played it so many times,” he says. “And I think it does sometimes weigh on the patience [of the audience].”
Let’s discuss in the comments below, “Supernatural” fans. Are you ready for the boys to stop lying to each other? Can “Supernatural” create dramatic tension in a full-disclosure environment? Weigh in. (But be nice.)