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Five Times Dean Repaired the Impala and One Time He Left Her To Rot

Real life hit us hard this last week so I missed a bunch of days of the countdown. Maybe this will make up for a couple of them. Throughout the course of the show, the Impala has taken some pretty impressive damage. Then, within the time span of a couple of episodes, we see that Dean has put her back together again. Sometimes we've seen him doing the work and other times she just shows up in the next episode fit as a fiddle. It seems like the times we've seen the repair work going on, it has echoed some sort of process Dean himself is working through. This is especially true about repair work done to the car after major damage occuring during the Season 1 and Season 6 finales. During Season 1, the car takes a bit of damage while working a couple of cases starting right from the Pilot where Sam crashes the car through a house to return the Woman in White to the scene of her crime. None of the damage comes anywhere close to the amount done to the car in the last few minutes of 1.22 - Devil's Trap. She's hit broadside (T-boned) by a demon-driven semi-truck.

I knew a bit about how Season 1 would go before I watched it but I had no idea this was coming and know I sat there in a state of slack-jawed shock. I was lucky I didn't have to wait the full summer hiatus to see what happened next.

Needless to say, she's totalled.

In another case of the well-being of the car being linked with Dean himself, Sam won't let the car go any more than he can let go of Dean.

After episode 2.01 - In My Time of Dying, when John dies, we have a few episodes of Dean working on the car as he works out some of his grief.

One scene that probably sticks out for most viewers over the course of the show is Dean taking his rage out on the trunk of the car with a tire iron during 2.02 - Everybody Loves a Clown.

The look Dean gives at the end of that scene has always struck me as looking like whatever has kept him animated to this point is just gone. Seasons later when Famine tells Dean he's already dead, I can't help but think of this look.

But somehow, Dean must work through some of that because by the beginning of 2.03, the boys are rolling down the road to the strains of Back in Black. But like any car whose frame has sustained that kind of damage never really returns to it's original state, neither does Dean. He makes the car and himself look pretty strong externally even if the core of the car and his heart are still showing signs of the wreckage.

During 6.14 - Mannequin 3: The Reckoning, the car is again possessed by a ghost and tries to run over Dean. He leads the ghost to drive through a building halting her run but not before causing some glass to kill the girl they were trying to save from her sister's vengeful spirit.

Sam and Dean have been working through big cracks in their relationship after Sam spent the first half of the season soulless. He tells Dean he has his back and Dean acknowledges that as they work to put the car back together.

In 6.22 - The Man Who Knew Too Much, the car is rolled by a cloud of demons.

Bobby and Dean escape major injury by being inside the car at the time.

Sam is in about as good shape as the car in that he's just reunited all the fractured parts of his soul, including hell!Sam and is having hallucinations of Lucifer.

He's doing his best to help protect Dean and Bobby too by showing up to try to take on Cas, who has just exercised the nuclear option.

In the beginning of Season 7, Dean pours his energy into fixing the car because he doesn't know what else to do for Sam or Cas or the rest of the world. We get a few scenes of him getting Sam to eat and trying to help Cas at the end of the episode.

I really liked how they filmed this with the shot upside down and how it slowly turns the right way up but that it actually leaves Dean on his back trying to fix the world by sheer brute force.

I like that they used the switch from day to night several times to show the passage of time. Plus the Plaid Shirt of Angst makes an appearance.

By the end of the episode, she's running again and Dean takes her to go track down Sam who is off driving around with Lucifer as his co-pilot.

In 9.16 - Blade Runners, Abaddon keys the side of the car and marks it with words. Dean has taken the Mark of Cain on himself and been united with Cain's knife, setting him on course to become a demon by the end of the season.

By the next episode, we see he's been able to repair the car but is not so successful with himself, although he tries.

He does get revenge for the car though. After he becomes a demon, the state of his soul is mimicked by what he's done to the car. He isn't taking care of her and she's a disgraceful mess full of garbage. There's plenty of meta there.

In 11.04 - Baby, we see the car get absolutely trashed during a few days' work on a case.

Within an episode, she's rolling down the road to continue the good fight.

We do get to see both brothers give her a wash at the beginning of the episode so we do see some of the regular care and maintenance needed to keep a car like her from giving over to the effects of her age.

The time the car is left in a state of decay, it's a pretty good indication that the world is ending. In 5.04 - The End, Dean gets dumped into a future where Sam has said yes to Lucifer and Dean is trying to kill him to put an end to the end of the world. That the Impala is left to rot gives time-travelling Dean an idea at the outset of how bad things have gotten.

I think she's an outward expression of the fact that future!Dean has given up any kind of hope.

There are a couple of times over the course of the show where Dean is in Hell or Purgatory but Sam is still there to see to it that the car is restored to order partly because he knows Dean would want that and partly because the Impala is a place Sam considers home. But in this version of the future, Sam is gone and there's nothing left to go on for except the fight which is being handled more like a military campaign than a hunt. The Impala, for all her good solid Detroit steel, is not a tank thus she's left to rot. Fortunately, Dean wakes up in his own time with the functional Impala and goes to find Sam and get him back in the car too. There is some kind of hope after all. Carry on.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 24th, 2017 09:16 am (UTC)
I think that's true. Plus for Dean in the early seasons especially, the car embodies home and family which is what Sam is. I'm reminded by your comment of some Con where Jensen related a dream he had about the end of the series where Dean trades the car's keys for a motorcycle because Sam is gone and he doesn't need the car if Sam isn't going to be riding shotgun.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 25th, 2017 11:54 pm (UTC)
Jensen strikes me as having pretty carefully worked out what is important to Dean and how he feels about it or them. There have been a few things he's said over the years that didn't ring true to me but for the most part, I think his observations are pretty insightful and add a lot to the depth of Dean in the show. I don't think that is an easy thing to do.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 24th, 2017 09:32 am (UTC)
Another thought about this is that there was a time when Sam actually was the car in Changing Channels.....
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 26th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
That probably depends on what sort of shipping you're into and exactly what sort of relationship we think Dean wants to have with his car. With our fandom, that could really go in a million directions, most of them probably very kinky.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 26th, 2017 01:43 am (UTC)
Apr. 24th, 2017 03:57 am (UTC)
She's definitely a member of the Winchester family, but undertandably to Dean she doesn't rank as high as Sam, so if Dean needs to take out his frustration (2x02), she suffers the consequences. But I'm glad that Dean's love for her has been rubbing off on Sam as well. ♥

Edited at 2017-04-24 06:57 am (UTC)
Apr. 24th, 2017 09:26 am (UTC)
Dean seems to remember a bit about life with a house as a home before Mary died but for Sam, the car is the only real connection left to his past until Mary shows up this season. At the end of the Baby episode when Sam tells Dean they are home, I think that is how Sam sees it. There have been times when Sam needed to find a different home like with Jess or Amelia and he also didn't want the connection when he was soulless. There's always so much to think about with this show.
Apr. 24th, 2017 05:19 am (UTC)
Now that was a fantastic post, so full of Baby being lovingly cared for. And that moment where he finds her all rotted out and unloved *clings*
Apr. 24th, 2017 09:31 am (UTC)
I love to watch Dean in mechanic mode but particularly in the beginning of season 7 when they really show how much work has to go into putting the car back together. She's just about my favorite part of the show which is all about Dean's eyes and Sam's hair riding around in a car doing some stuff. 8-)
Apr. 24th, 2017 09:37 am (UTC)
A lovely post and fascinating to think about! When Dean's struggling with family, this is often reflected in the Impala. After all she is family.

I think in 5.04, she's left to rot because he thinks he has no family; no father, no mother, no brother and therefore he doesn't deserve her maybe?

Dean 'misusing' the car is often a sigh that Dean is struggling and maybe not himself; with grief, with Sam, with the Mark (wasn't there a sign with him and Sam in the Impala and Sam saying something about how crappy he was treating her or something?)

Wonderful thinky thoughts - thank you! :)
Apr. 25th, 2017 02:09 pm (UTC)
That's a good thought about 5.04. The car seems to be tied so closely to his sense of family and by that point, everyone he's known except Cas and Chuck are gone. I think Dean spends a lot of time thinking he doesn't deserve good things so this is an easy jump to make.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )


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