Sorry for Not Putting on a Hair Shirt, or How 9x19 Shows Dean’s Atonement is a Long Way off
Of all the things said in Alex Annie Alexis Anne, in the context of this episode and Dean’s current character arc, this little sentence is the one that really got to me.
In religious practice, a cilice, or hair shirt is worn as a sign of atonement and penance for ones sins with the basic idea behind it that if a human repents now, they will go to Heaven rather than Hell. Commonly made of burlap or goat’s hair, it was worn underneath regular clothing. The effect of it was raw-rubbed skin, soreness, or even in extreme cases open wounds.
So, when referencing it, it’s not just that Dean blithely brushes aside the idea of being sorry for enjoying the vampire kill. It’s that by doing so he brushes aside the idea that he could ever be able to atone for his sins and basically sentences himself to Hell. Which is exactly where he believes he has to go again.
Kevin’s blood is on my hands, and that ain’t ever getting clean. I’ll burn for that. I will. (9x10 Road Trip)
I would argue that taking on the Mark of Cain was an act of of penance, of self-flagellation with an angry read scar to prove it, but rather than doing this to rid himself of sin, it was to condemn himself to Hell. Dean’s not stupid. While he may have underestimated some of the side-effects of the Mark, taking on the Curse of a Knight of Hell was not just a means to an end to defeat Abaddon. It is a means to send himself back to the Pit.
When it comes to those side-effects, Dean is in fact doing the very opposite of atoning for sins, the very opposite of what a cilice is made for. The act of contrition made by wearing a hair shirt is called “mortification of the flesh”; essentially meaning denying oneself earthly pleasures. Mortification of the flesh can entail anything ranging from a fast to the self-flagellation I mentioned above. Basically the very antithesis of what Dean is currently doing. He is downing liquor by the bucket-load. He is indulging in murder (indulging because he is enjoying it). And not just that, by demanding the vampire looked at him at the moment of death, he is watching the life drain out of him. Not that it was needed, but to emphasise just how awful that was, Jodie had Alex turn away from someone’s life ending. It’s what I imagine psychopaths do…
And Dean, he just doesn’t care, because - as Jensen mentioned - his emotions have become dulled under the Mark’s curse and it is allowing his dark side to come out in full force. So, what we have is a Dean who is much more like Endverse’s 2014!Dean who believes that killing a human suffering from Croatoan is normal.
Plugging some Croat, it’s called commonplace
A Dean who is
all too well schooled in the art of getting to the truth
A Dean that 2009!Dean abhorred.
The closer we get to the finale, the more apparent it is becoming that we are going to leave Dean in a very dark place for summer hiatus. Because something is truly broken inside and it will take more than three episodes to mend it. God, it’s is going to hurt.