Without even appearing in the episode, John Winchester made a huge impression on last night's episode of Supernatural. Unlike Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural doesn't need Jeffrey Dean Morgan to appear as a ghost to get its point across. Even though Dean was right about John's long lost son Adam Milligan being a trap, he was also wrong, because it turns out John really did have another kid.
Not only did we learn a lot more about John's secret past, but we learned more about his relationships with his sons. He showered Adam with affection and baseball games not because he loved him more, but because John wanted some level of normalcy, and he knew he could never have that with Sam and Dean after what happened to their mother.
John Winchester was fiercely protective, trying to shield Adam from the truth, but in the end, that failed. Adam was killed by a lowly Ghoul because he wasn't prepared for the world of demons. Sam and Dean, as much as they may resent the life they've been given, are only alive because of what John taught them.
More importantly, the episode ended with an interesting conundrum. Dean admitted that even though he tries his hardest to look and act like their dad, it's Sam who is actually the apple of his father's eye. Sam wasn't sure whether being compared to John was a compliment, and it's a question fans are now asking themselves.
On the one hand, John Winchester was brave and fearless, an expert hunter who cared deeply for his family. He also proved his bravery after his death, as Alastair told Dean that John refused to stop the pain of Hell by making the same deal Dean made. John sacrificed his own well-being for the greater good, something Dean wasn't able to do.
Sam, however, lives by this same code. All season long he's been drinking demon blood, slowly giving up a piece of his humanity, in order to become strong enough to defeat demons. Hunting was something he never wanted to do, but now it's his life and Sam will do whatever it takes to do it.
Supernatural has always been about the sacrifices people make. Dean was willing to give up his soul to bring his brother back to life, but that isn't the kind of sacrifice men like John and Sam believe in. Sam is giving up his humanity not to save the life of someone he loves, but for good. He's willing to go over to the dark side and drink up the demon power in order to do what must be done.
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