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Well, there's quite a donnybrook.  I suppose it was coming.  There was the airing of a laundry list of eight seasons worth of mad.  None of them were surprising at this point but it was good to hear them acknowledged.  It's great for continuity.  The episode was directed by Tim Andrew, who has only done two other SPN episodes, Season 7 Yada Yada and Of Grave Importance.  I liked it for the most part but Sam's flashbacks had awkward transitions.  The writer was Adam Glass, who wrote several episodes over the last few seasons, including Party On, GarthMommy Dearest and Two and a Half Men.  It's interesting to see an episode where the featured guest actor worked with both the writer and director on previous episodes.  The episode used a Civil War soldier specter as the MotW and here's a bit about what was going in the region that ties in with what they did with the sets.  If you don't want to read history, just skip the next two paragraphs.

Brother against brother is a way to sum up the situation many families found themselves in during the Civil War, especially in states along the border.  It also reflects the fact that it was American against American. The episode was set in Missouri which was a border state during the war.  All the states south of there seceded and joined the Confederacy.  The episode was set in Kearney, Missouri, which is on the northern edge of the state near the border with Kansas.  Leading up to the war, the region was settled by people from further south who brought southern traditions and slaves with them, enough so that it was known as Little Dixie.  Kansas had a very active abolitionist movement, much of which was fueled by two anti-slavery newpapers in Lawrence.  As states entered the Union, they had to declare themselves as free or slave states.  In a very simplified telling of the history, Missouri joined as a slave state at the same time that Maine entered as a free state.  That kept the legistative representation balanced in the federal government.  When it came time for Kansas to join, the rules had changed and they didn't have to come in balanced by another state, they could just decide which they wanted to be.  The Missouri slave-owning people wanted Kansas to come in as a slave state so their slaves couldn't cross the border to freedom.  Many Kansans wanted to come in as a free state.  At that point, a de facto war took place between free state Kansans and pro-slave Kansans and Missourians.  Lawrence was sacked and the presses were destroyed along with a building and there was looting followed by retaliation and escalation.  Kansas joined as a free state and shortly after that the Civil War broke out.  Although it was a slave state, Missouri remained part of the Union and said they would remain neutral.  In the end, troops and supplies from Missouri ended up going to both sides.  The conflict among the people of Missouri, with some supporting the Union, others the Confederacy, and a third group wanting nothing to do with any of it lasted long after the war was over.

In the Kearney area, the tit for tat fighting with Kansas had grown to a brutal guerilla war.  Nobody had clean hands and the civilians took the brunt of it on both sides.  Lawrence continued to be a target and eventually a man named William Clarke Quantrill got together a group of 300 to 400 men and attacked Lawrence and killed most of the men and boys, between 150 and 200 of them.  Most of Lawrence was burned.  The retaliation continued and by the end, the civilian population and property on both sides of the state line were ravaged.  A couple of Kearney's native sons, the James brothers, Frank and younger brother Jesse, were active in Quantrill's group with Frank probably participating in the Lawrence massacre.  The James brothers later became notorious for armed bank and train robberies.  Jesse was eventually shot in the back and killed by a member of his gang, Robert Ford, who had been living in his house and betrayed him for the reward money.  Five months later, Frank turned himself in to the Missouri governor in exchange for not being extradited to Minnesota where he was wanted for murder.  When he gave up his gun he said, "I have been hunted for twenty-one years, have literally lived in the saddle, have never known a day of perfect peace. It was one long, anxious, inexorable, eternal vigil." 

With all of that as background, it makes a lot of sense that Sam and Dean airing hurts and betrayals would be set here.  It also puts an extra punch into what Dean, a man from Lawrence, Kansas, says when he drops the match on the bones of the Confederate soldier, "We won." The sets incorporate flags from the Confederacy and the Union, as well as stars, stripes, red, white, and blue that are elements of both.  The Union and Confederate armies are also represented by their uniform colors, navy blue and gray respectively and Sam and Dean wore those colors when the tension was the worst.  The sets played up stereotypical parts of southern culture, not all of it flattering.

They started with the first victim and his wife, with their run down house, yard full of junk cars, and confederate flags. The slogan "the south will rise again" is a regional sentiment expressed for various reasons.  Near the opening, they had an angel light but the better angels of our nature are not here, unless you count Garth.

Even the dialog about "get me a beer" is pretty much a stereotypical behavior.  The wife gets a red shirt as a victim as well as the murderer.

The South wil rise again.  It will be bloody.

This place subverts the white picket fence nicely.

Confederate battle flag in the window.

Christmas lights, wind chimes, and a flowered table cloth.  The place is a confused, tangled mess.  The son has his red and blue on.

More red and blue including clothes on the chick on the wall.

This has such a trapped, messy feeling to it complete with chains.

At this point, the boys are wearing opposite Civil War battle colors.

The Confederate flag shows up at the bar, too.  The pool player's shirt says South. The drum has "the South will rise again" on the face.  

Remember the trouble in Paradise from last week's motel?  There it is wrapped around the tree on stage.  More pokes at the hunting, shooting reputation of that part of the country.  The beer posters are from the brewery in Party On, Garth.  The deer's head is hanging there along with a sign about Route 66 which cuts through Missouri.  There's also a car poster with a checkered flag floor like the finishing flag for a NASCAR race.

Monster trucks.

Confederate battle flag on the wall and more on the bandstand.  Dean gets the red and yellow warning colors over him.  In a place that probably serves pretty good burgers and fried food, Sam's got salad like in Bitten.  They're still in blue and gray.

More flags are at the Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier.  The real one is in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The real tomb.

I like how the shadows look a bit like stars.  More flags.

The picture is lovely but I want a real cannon.

Dean's in blue now as he burns the Confederate soldier's bones.

More flags.

There are a lot of places where blue and red are paired.  The sheriff gets shot in front of a gun safety poster.  Is that statue a dog or a deer?

Southern Comfort is a liqueur but I'm thinking Dean probably thinks of BBQ as comfort food.

I really like how you can see inside the car.

In the same scene, Sam is standing in front of a jumble of green chairs. Chaos like at the murder victim's house.  It looks like ivy growing along the door.  This is not a fan fiction Dean because he set a cup down on his baby.

Later, the red, white and blue is reflected on the car.

Warning red and yellow, too.  Along with a steak feed.

Sunscreen goes on sale in the SPN universe a lot.

Mad Buck beer.

There are stars, particularly in the motel room.  There's a lot going on with the room but we'll get to that.

For every stereotype there must be an equal and opposite stereotype.  The prom date is the other image of the South - a refined lady serving sweet tea on her white wicker furniture on her wide veranda.  She's got the red, blue and gray going on as well as flowered lace curtains.

With her cultivated flowers.  You have to wonder if part of Mrs. Lew's reason for murder had to do with jealousy of Ms. Alcott's apparent success in life.  She's wearing quite a rock.

After this, we got one of Sam's flashbacks. Much as a sex scene is fun to watch, I'm glad they didn't play it like that with Sam and Amelia.  We found out Amelia's husband up and went to war without talking to her about it because he thought it was the right thing to do.  It must be this show that makes that sound like something hinky.  His name was Don.  Don't share weed with him.  Basically these two are having a rebound relationship based on sober thinking.  Rolls eyes.

This is great green shag carpeting.

Under the turbulent waves.

In front of them.

Amelia's shirt is a perfect match with the kitchen.

At the end, Sam and Amelia have a drink under a painting that was used in the motel in Party On, Garth. I love how there's an ash tray on the coffee table in the room with the no smoking sign.  There's a brochure behind Sam of homes.

So this is a relationship about comfort and grief, I guess?

Back to the present and Sam and Garth go find out about a pair of brothers, divided by the war.  In the course of that war, one killed the other and later brought his bones back for burial.

At this point, Sam is wearing the colors of a Confederate officer.  You can see a bit of a mannequin in the back behind Sam with the uniform on.

They figure out about the penny while Dean is being schooled by the specter and we get an Asylum-like confrontation with a gun.  There is so much in the fight scene that is so revealing of the boys' relationship.  There's a great discussion of it here at ash48's journal.  If you look at what the possessed people were holding a grudge about, they echo parts of the conflict between Sam and Dean.  All of the conflicts come down to the point of view of the possessed person.  They are also things that the possessed had dealt with on the surface.  They'd all seemed to have moved on.  In the first, it was a jealous spouse killing her husband for an infidelity that was really all in the eye of the beholder. They had broken up when the guy took someone else to the prom.  The second was a bad business partner who drove the business into the ground.  Sounds familiar.  The third was a guy who's boss was overworking him and making him do a job he didn't want.  The last was an ump who made a judgement call about the player that the player didn't agree with.  None of these would be things you'd think would drive someone to murder.  Underneath it all, a lot of it had to do with jealousy and that's rampant in the boys' relationship right now.  It's also all about abandoning each other and the fear that it will happen again.  If they didn't need each other so much, none of what they're fighting about would hurt so much.  There's a lot of guilt in there on both sides too but in the course of this fight, Sam takes that part to heart.  

I know NASCAR racing is really popular in the south.  I'm not sure what the significance is of putting Dean with a gun in front of a picture of the Daytona 500 but I like the shot.  There's a lot of red and yellow in it.  Dean's wearing the Union blue now.

Even the room is divided into North and South.  Red, white and blue with stars on the one side and gray and white with the finishing flag on the floor and food wrapper.

Sam knows that Dean is possessed but he hears Dean saying these things, not the specter, and takes it as an emotional blow.  He's not worried about getting killed here.  He's just absorbing the hit and later, looks so resigned.

The motel is called the Little Dixie Motel and the signs are over here on the gray half.

For all that Dean is angry, he never would have said some of that stuff without the specter pushing.  It's interesting that he didn't just mention Sam's betrayal, but Cas's too.  

Now a brief intermission to say that Sam's boots are sweet.  Back to the motel room, I'm pretty sure the magazine open on the floor is a detail of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  It depicts the Genesis version of the creation story, Adam and Eve getting kicked out of the garden, and Noah with the ark and some of his misadventures.  It was done by Michelangelo who painted most of it lying on his back on scaffolding.  Maybe it's here because it's a picture of the original trouble in Paradise.  

Garth got the penny away from Dean.  In the aftermath, Dean granted Garth his blessing to wear The Hat.  Sam remembered finding someone to grieve with and then came out and told Dean he was on notice to move on or Sam was going to.  What was different about this fight is that Sam didn't throw in the towel and leave, he got back in the car.  As the people of the region know, getting past a grudge is difficult.  The Civil War ended in 1865 but the US flag didn't fly over the county courthouse for many years.  One spot on Wiki says not until WWI.

In this case, I'd say green is good.  I have to admit, as much as I like Garth as a character, he's no Bobby.  I really miss Bobby and don't want anyone to replace him down to hats and "idjits."  Still, if it makes Garth feel better...

After the way Sam reacted with Dean's gun on him, I wasn't sure what kind of reaction he would have here.  I'm glad he had an angry reaction, told Dean to shape up, and then got in the car, rather than walking away.  So now we're set up for a showdown between Sam and Benny.  It never stops.

A lot of the story can be summed up by the motel sign.  A yellow arrow pointing the way to danger.  It's the North's red, white and blue stacked on the South's black and white NASCAR flag.  There's a reminder of the area's history with Little Dixie and a welcome to the Jesse James Outlaw Days.  Jesse, who died because of betrayal, after a life of crime, leaving an older brother to live out the rest of his life from job to job and place to place.  Frank finally came back to the family home in Kearney, where he died at 72.

All caps from homeofthenutty


( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
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Nov. 12th, 2012 02:08 pm (UTC)
I have to admit, I laughed SO HARD at the "we won" line, knowing that the boys were from Kansas. But I didn't even notice the blue and the grey outfits, and I didn't know about the James boys being from Kearney. Thanks for sharing that with us; it makes the ep even more interesting!

P.S. Excellent music choice. :)
Nov. 12th, 2012 04:10 pm (UTC)
I remembered a little about Bleeding Kansas from high school history but had no idea how really violent it got. I like when there's more to the episode than meets the eye.

That music....so great for Veteran's Day.
Nov. 12th, 2012 04:16 pm (UTC)
This is so detailed, I don't know where to begin!

I am from NY, specifically born in Central NY which is rural and poor, but when you hear NY! You might think New York City, and I've never lived there. Which brings me to when I hear "Kansas" I always think Brown v. the Board of Education and the "quasi-south". So when I heard Dean say: "We won!" I had to re-educate myself and remember that Kansas was not a part of the confederacy. So, thank you for the detailed history on Kansas and Missouri, because I think it did matter to the story.

I think Sam in the grey suit is appropriate. He has tried to secede from his family on a few occasions. Were his reasons sound? Was he right or wrong? Big questions. In this particular instance we see that Sam not only seceded, he left his brother completely (by not searching for Dean after he disappeared from Dick's lab). Is this akin to completely ideologically fighting on the other side during the Civil War?

At the end, Sam "rejoins" his brother, but he still carries his grudges, and still has not changed his ideology! Ha! Supernatural...nice parallel there!!

Nov. 12th, 2012 04:21 pm (UTC)
Cool connection between Sam and the Confederacy......I didn't think of it in terms of seceding but it makes a lot of sense.
Nov. 12th, 2012 10:28 pm (UTC)
Omg, I'm always amazed at how much I miss, and how much the details you add enrich my viewing and my understanding. I'm so impressed with Show and the time and energy and attention they take to say things not just with words but with all kinds of visuals. Amazing. Thank you so much!
Nov. 13th, 2012 11:25 am (UTC)
It's a lot of fun to go through the episodes and look for things. They put in so much detail.
Nov. 13th, 2012 05:59 am (UTC)
Fantastic meta. Thanks so much for taking the time to elucidate the history of the area. Now it makes me wonder, what side the Campbells might have been on-- or more likely they were also torn, brother from brother. And also, how the Texas Rangers fit in.

It's very interesting to me that Dean starts out in the silver/grey tie and Sam starts out in the red/blue tie, but they switch their color schemes by the time of the fight. Thoughts?

That black and white tile flooring never bodes well. I like the comparison to the checkered flag. It also reminds me of the red room in Twin Peaks where deep metaphorical messages come through, though that floor is a crazy zigzag rather than mere checks.

Nov. 13th, 2012 11:51 am (UTC)
I wasn't sure what to make of the fact that they switched colors. One of the other comments above talks about Sam having some in common with the Confederacy. Maybe it's because at the end he appeared to be losing the fight but that doesn't explain why they switched.

The bit with Texas, I'm not sure either but Texas did join and fight for the CSA. A lot of the Rangers joined the army as part of the 8th Texas Cavalry and built quite a reputation for themselves. It may have been because their uniform consists of western wear. (I'm not sure about fringe.) They also wore their own western gear as part of the Confederate Army rather than the gray. It helped keep Garth neutral as far as the color bit going on with the boys.

Edited at 2012-11-13 03:52 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - fannishliss - Nov. 13th, 2012 12:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 13th, 2012 08:53 am (UTC)
I am amazed at all the visual things you saw! Thanks for sharing with us!

"This is not a fan fiction Dean because he set a cup down on his baby."

I have to say, good thing I wasn't drinking coffee when I read that... :D
Nov. 13th, 2012 11:57 am (UTC)
There I go, confusing reality with.....
(no subject) - fannishliss - Nov. 13th, 2012 12:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Nov. 13th, 2012 10:27 am (UTC)
Excellent meta. I love catching up on the visual elements. I appreciate all the work you put into this.
Nov. 13th, 2012 11:53 am (UTC)
Thanks. 8-)
Nov. 13th, 2012 11:13 am (UTC)
This was a great analysis of the episode visually! And thanks so much for the history. I'm astonished at how much I missed -- especially having moved around a bunch as a kid and having got stuck with three years in a row of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Maybe being in NC, then Cal, and never the part of the country near Missouri and Kansas is what ordained what I'd learn about that time. (Also parents from Detroit who were children of immigrants colored what I took away from it.) I did not even notice all the confed flags. I loved Dean's "We won," though. And I felt Dean was placed in front of the NASCAR print because he was/is heading for a crash -- though maybe that's too literal. Thanks again! This is the kind of history I wish schools would teach -- interesting and relevant -- so we wouldn't make the same mistakes over and over.
Nov. 13th, 2012 12:09 pm (UTC)
I was born in St. Louis but moved to Upper Michigan when I was a kid so I didn't know any of this other than a brief brush with US history in high school. It seems to make a difference when you're learning something that you can make a connection with somehow.

That's a good thought about the NASCAR picture. I looked to see if I could get anything from the numbers as far as drivers go but I'm just not a big enough fan to be able to pick anything out.
Nov. 13th, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
wow, thanks for elucidating the local civil war history, which know next to nothing about.
Nov. 13th, 2012 12:15 pm (UTC)
I always learn something new when I go digging with these episodes. It's my favorite kind of learning, when I just stumble into something.
Nov. 13th, 2012 12:33 pm (UTC)
This was an awesome analysis! I knew about the trouble in Kansas right before the Civil War, but you really clarified what happened (and I didn't know Lawrence was so important during it!) I also had heard of Jesse James, but I didn't know he had an older brother and I didn't see the connections to him in this episode, but now I do know that it's there (especially because that sign actually says his name!)

I also love your thoughts on color in the show.

If I'm not friends with you yet, I'm going to start following you now so I don't miss anymore posts like this!
Nov. 13th, 2012 05:24 pm (UTC)
It was a really fun episode to pick apart after I got to looking at. They put so much thought into sets and costuming.
Nov. 13th, 2012 12:43 pm (UTC)
I'm wondering where Benny is going to fit into the brother against brother theme. Not in the obvious sense of contributing to the tensions between Sam and Dean, but just between Dean and Benny. They fought in a war (the division of Dean's flashback year as the war movie and Sam's civilian relationship story has been clear, especially with the reveal about Amelia's husband, leaving Amelia and Sam as both casualties of the home front). They bonded fighting on the same side. In a weird way, Dean brought Benny home to his grave by bringing his soul through, digging up his bones, and reviving him. So they seem almost like the opposite numbers of the Civil War brothers: on the same side instead of different sides, Dean resurrects Benny rather than killing and burying him. And yet Dean and Benny are potentially on opposite sides, hunter and monster, even though they are both holding those identities in abeyance as regards each other.
Nov. 13th, 2012 05:42 pm (UTC)
I'm really curious about what they are going to do with Benny. That's a cool point about them being the opposite of the Civil War brothers with the burying and unburying. Your comment took me off on a tangent and maybe you have an idea about this. When Cas got Dean out of Hell, he must have put Dean's soul back in his refurbished body. I'm guessing Cas got out as himself. This time, Dean got out of Purgatory, body and soul. He brought Benny's soul back and somehow refurbished Benny's body. Does that leave Benny with some kind of metaphorical handprint on his shoulder? It seems like they would have a stronger relationship than just brothers in arms. How does something like that fit in with Sam? Cas was charged with protecting Dean. Is Dean responsible for Benny somehow now? Dean said Benny had never betrayed him and that kind of statement is just asking for trouble.
Nov. 13th, 2012 07:07 pm (UTC)
I am flying by because I've wanted to say OMG THIS IS AWESOME since you posted it but I've always wanted to find the time to actually read it ALL...so... this is a place holder comment to say... I LOVE YOUR AMAZING BRAIN and I will be back to made a decent comment when I've been able to read and absorb is more...

Nov. 13th, 2012 07:34 pm (UTC)
Ooh, this was excellent to read, thanks for that! And regarding the painting that Sam and Amelia drink under--isn't that the same one in the very next shot with Dean and Garth? What do you make of that?
Nov. 13th, 2012 08:37 pm (UTC)
I should have marked that picture of Dean and Garth under the picture of horses a little better. That cap was from Party On, Garth. I think that's the episode with first time we see Bobby as a ghost. Garth starts to put it together that the flask is haunted. I'm not sure what the connection between that and Sam and Amelia is. Maybe mourning?
Nov. 13th, 2012 08:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for that extra Civil War history. I thought they dumbed down Sam & Dean a little too much in the episode by having them know virtually nothing about it, but I suppose it's possible that with all their changing of schools they might have missed learning much about it, and of course things have to be spelled out for viewers. I totally missed the changing suit colours and "Don" being someone you shouldn't take a joint from!
Nov. 13th, 2012 08:44 pm (UTC)
A lot of it seemed like exposition but there are so many people from all over who probably didn't know much about it so I can see why they did it. I stumbled over the Lawrence connection. I love doing stuff like that. Then I jump up and down with glee and end up putting it here. 8-)
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 14th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC)
That must have been a cool class. I haven't had a US history class since high school, longer ago than I'd like to admit. I got a lot out of Ken Burn's Civil War series. Gettysburg is on my list of places I hope I get to see someday.

I'm glad you liked this recap. I've been doing one for each episode from about mid-season 7. You can find them in the tags under the "caps and recaps were....." The SPN crew do a lot with the color and sets for each episode. I started doing them because I ended up watching parts of a couple of episodes with the sound off and then the visuals just popped out. I don't do very well listening to fighting. I did get through this one but I really had to brace myself.
Nov. 14th, 2012 09:12 am (UTC)
Ok hun. That was nothing short of brilliant. Thank you so much for taking the time to go through this in such detail.

And thank you especially for the American Civil War 101 because I confess to knowing next to nothing about it. I did know about the uniforms though and pointing out the colour of the suits and ties the boys are wearing just fill me with SQUEE! Them switching colours is also fascinating - not sure if there's underlying meta there or if show was just not wanting to give them "sides".

And damn I love that the room is divided into North and South. It just makes me love the set designers and production crew of this show more and more.

So with the connection to the Civil War, Dean and Benny (and Cas I imagine) fighting a war purgatory, the Hurt Locker connection in the season opener and now a reference to Amelia's husband being lost in Afghanistan....we are very clearly seeing pointers to the war between Sam and Dean. That stresses me (in the sense of arghhhh..boys fighting) and excites me (yay it's all about Sam and Dean).

I'd love the NASCAR pic to mean something. It seems like it SHOULD. Also those numbers should be meaningful! ;)

Thank you for the brilliant analysis. <3333
Nov. 14th, 2012 11:06 am (UTC)
I had some thoughts about how the idea of a war between Sam and Dean is to some extent a misread or a misdirect, terms that Sam and Dean (and the audience who followed the first five seasons) are used to thinking of, but in a lot of ways a misunderstanding of the actual gap between them at this point.

I won't retype it all, but I posted it on my LJ after pondering galwithglasses wonderful analysis:

(no subject) - ash48 - Nov. 14th, 2012 06:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - galwithglasses - Nov. 14th, 2012 01:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
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