so dean selling his soul in "all hell breaks loose" probably already makes you insane, but it should shred you like cheese and here's why:
it's established in season 1 that sam wants out--after they find azazel and kill him, sam's done. he tells dean this outright in 1x16 "shadow".
dean's not happy about it, obviously, but dean never argues with him outright. he asks sam to stay, and sam says no, and dean stops trying to argue. we get kicked-puppy dean, but dean's accepted this for the most part.
even in season two when things start to go sideways, sam doesn't really change this plan. sam's focus tilts more on being "saved," and it's implied that he'll be free when azazel dies--there's that endpoint again, when sam can be normal, "when it's over." when it's over, sam is done with hunting.
most importantly, sam doesn't tell dean that the endpoint has changed, doesn't even hint at it. going into AHBL, dean believes that sam has come with an endpoint, and that it's here if they kill yellow eyes.
after the deal's been struck and yellow eyes is dead, dean doesn't plan on telling sam anything. not only does he not plan on telling sam how they got him back, he's not planning on telling him how long the contract is, sam wheedles it out of him because dean's not very good at lying to him.
that means, that when dean sells his soul in AHBLP2, dean is selling his eternal, mortal soul for a year with sam that he is not expecting to see.
sam is going to spend dean's year in california, with friends that sam's long-since fallen out of contact with, (some of which think he and his brother have been on a crime spree bc of 1x6 "skin") safe and as far away from dean as his legs can carry him--or, sam's just fucking off away from the life to god knows where, and dean's letting sam go because sam asked him to. not letting him die, never letting him die, but letting him go.
dean in the season two finale is telling sam, "i love you, so i am making my death anonymous. i love you so much that i will die alone."
the intense, silent devotion of making a sacrifice anonymous, of surrendering the right you have to your own death, of accepting an eternity of literal torture so sam can exist--that's it, just exist--away from dean but alive somewhere.
anyway, i'm chewing my leg off, have a nice wincest wednesday
i just reached swan song in my rewatch.
if spn ended here… i’d be happy. more than. it’s a beautiful and bittersweet closure to a heart ache of a show. it wraps everything up beautifully. it takes sam, who viewed himself as a monster all his life, who was constantly labelled by everyone around him as a powerless junkie, and it lets him take over. hell, even SAM said himself that he views himself as less than everyone else. he knows his weaknesses and his failures yet he still said yes. he still fought. and in the end, it was his HUMANITY that brought him back. it was dean and the small memories of happiness that he holds so tight. sam just learnt that his entire LIFE was a lie orchestrated by azazel— but who he is? his family? dean? that’s all his. so in that last moment, by having sam regain control, it’s really the ultimate statement of humanity. he is not a monster. he is so very human that he fought the devil and won. isn’t that amazing??
also… dean in the aftermath. even though he lived through the apocalypse and lost his whole fucking world in one fell swoop, he kept his promise. he did what sam asked of him. he shed the cyclic revenge-fury-anger fate that his father instilled in him and he broke free. he let go, despite how much it broke him inside. every time i think about it, it makes my entire body ache. the sheer amount of grief and emotion that dean must harbour is unfathomable. the pressure he is under is impossibly crushing. but he keeps going on. he lives. he does it one day at a time, and he does it in his brother’s memory.
there is just something so fucking heartbreaking about that, about dean who will never fill the hole in his chest, who will never stop missing sam and seeing him in his dreams and wondering what if but who CHOSES to live. who choses to build up from ground fucking zero and make something of the life that sam fought for. to honour his last dying wish even if it killed him inside because he can finally acknowledge that he is more than sam’s keeper. he is his brother. he respects and trusts him, and he treats him like his own person. that speaks VOLUMES to dean’s character development, because never in my wildest dreams could i imagine a dean winchester who lets sam go BUT THIS DEAN DOES. this dean not only lets sam go but does so with pride and dignity and honour for who he was. that’s just mindblowing to me. s5 did such a PHENOMENAL job at wrapping up spn.
this isn’t to say that the latter seasons are all bad. it’s just that spn has traded so many hands throughout its life that the show that it ended as is virtually unrecognizable from the show it started as. that’s just a true fact. supernatural changed after seasons 1-5. it grew out into something new. i have a shit ton of love and respect for that in its own right— but og supernatural? kripke supernatural? the blood, grit, gore and gothic americana supernatural that i grew up on? in my mind, that ends with swan song. that supernatural is it’s own little story. everything after is an addendum, a sequel. the original story of sam and dean ends with that shot of dean with lisa and ben having dinner. the story ends with sam sacrificing himself for the world and proving without a doubt that he is good and human along the way. it ends on a note of bittersweet hope and raw grief that bleeds all the way down to your core but soothes the wounds in the aftermath, because no matter how much it hurts, it’s closure. for sam, and for dean.
Supernatural 2x22 “All Hell Breaks Loose: Part 2″ | The Vampire Diaries 4x15 “Stand By Me”
Dean Winchester and Elena Gilbert standing vigil over their brothers’ rotting corpses.
[Caption: the first gif shows Dean standing in the dark over Sam’s corpse, without taking his eyes off him; Sam rests on a mattress thrown on the dusty, floor, illuminated by a little sunlight coming from a window. The second gif shows Elena caressing Jeremy’s face and holding his hand, attentive, as he lies lifeless on his own bed.]
DEAN: That's my point. Dad brought me back, Bobby. I'm not even supposed to be here. At least this way, something good could come out of it, you know? I--I--It's like my life could mean something.
&&. S2E22, All Hell Breaks Loose I and II.