In turn, Sam insists on doing the trials because he does believe he and Dean can escape the hand of fate and dictate their own future. He believes Dean’s fatalism will make his death more likely, while his own belief in survival opens up that ending as a possibility. And he too has a dream for his brother—one where he shows Dean how to believe in his own worth.
It was lovely stuff and not centered on whether either brother was competent to do the tasks themselves.
I was not thrilled in this episode to see the issue devolve to a tense discussion in which Dean questions Sam’s competence and Sam questions Dean’s motives. Yes, Dean likes to be in control, but in season five, Dean decided Sam has incredible physical, intellectual and spiritual strength, and he could allow his younger brother to take the lead on Lucifer. Sam has already heard Dean say, “You're not a kid anymore, Sam, and I can't keep treating you like one. Maybe I got to grow up a little, too. I don't know if we got a snowball's chance. But... But I do know that if anybody can do it... it's you.”
That scene from “Swan Song” meshes beautifully with the ending of “Trial and Error,” where Dean agrees not only to let Sam continue the trials, but also to allow for the possibility of defining their own lives.
The “Swan Song” scene doesn’t mesh so well with this episode and I’m not sure what happened between “Trial and Error” and “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” to change the way the brothers view each other. The shift in tone smacks of contorting the plot to support Sam’s decision to lie to Dean about feeling sick. And I don’t believe any contortions are necessary to find ways for the brothers to lie to protect each other.
I did like the scene where Dean reaffirms to Sam he supports him and he knows they are stronger together. But the scene adds little to what we learned in “Trial and Error,” which handled this discussion far better. Hopefully, next week the series returns to form.